Dressed Up Performance: Broadway's 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert' ready to arrive in Windy City

2013-03-15T00:00:00Z 2013-03-19T13:11:04Z Dressed Up Performance: Broadway's 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert' ready to arrive in Windy CityBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Actor Joe Hart was excited when asked to join the national Broadway touring production of the new musical "Priscilla Queen of the Desert."

He said he knew he'd be surrounded by pretty girls, with the one catch being, the girls are actually guys dolled up to be female entertainers.

Playing Bob Spart, the man who happens upon a broken down bus in the desert transporting a flock of drag queen performers, Hart said he was already familiar with the story, having seen the popular 1994 film on which the stage musical is based.

"Actor Bill Hunter played my role and I've always been a fan of his acting career," said Hart, who arrives with the cast next week for the Chicago run presented by Broadway In Chicago playing the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University for two weeks March 19 to 30.

The opulent show tells the uplifting story of a trio of friends on a road trip of a lifetime, who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship in the middle of the Australian outback and end up finding more than they could ever have dreamed. And when Hart's character Bob decides to join the travels with his new-found "interesting" friends, adventure unfolds with splashy musical numbers throughout.

An international hit with more than 500 dazzling, 2011 Tony Award-winning costumes, "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" features a hit parade of dance-floor favorites including "It's Raining Men," "Finally" and "I Will Survive."

"This was a tale that spoke to me, since my character is an open soul," Hart said.

"And not only is the music great, we've got a great touring company."

Hart said while touring, he's found the audience to be "a wonderful mix."

"We have all of these great fans of the original movie who show up and love it," Hart said. "But also, we have a solid audience made up of the theater subscriber base who often haven't seen the movie and know nothing of the story and they too are dazzled and drawn to it."

He said the first time he had an audience stand for a resounding applause during the tour, he was "taken to another place."

"I've never experienced applause before in my career like this show gets night after night," Hart said.

He said the other "non-breathing" stars of this performance are the costumes.

"There are really only three wardrobe specialists who travel with us, even though it takes a team of 12 to do all of those quick changes off-stage and really know all of the intricate pieces of this vast wardrobe, from feathers and false eyelashes to wigs and headdresses. So when we get to each city, part of the rehearsal process is training the on-site wardrobe specialists who suddenly have to learn all of these changes very quickly. There's another entire show happening behind the curtain."

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