Queens of the road head to Portsmouth for Players’ show

Portsmouth Players in rehearsal for Priscilla, Queen of The Desert. They are at The Kings in Southsea, October 9-13, 2018
Portsmouth Players in rehearsal for Priscilla, Queen of The Desert. They are at The Kings in Southsea, October 9-13, 2018

It began life as a cult 1994 Australian film that helped bring LGBT issues into the mainstream.

But since being turned into a musical in 2006, Priscilla, Queen of The Desert, has reached a whole new audience and been a global, award-winning hit.

It tells the story of two drag queens, Tick and Felicia/Adam and a transgender woman Bernadette, who are contracted to perform a drag show at a resort in Alice Springs.

The show chronicles their adventures as they head west from Sydney aboard their bus, Priscilla.

Now Portsmouth Players are tackling the show for their latest production.

For Ed Chase, who was last seen as the Lion in the Players’ Guide Award-winning The Wizard of Oz, playing Tick it’s a dream part.

‘I really set out for the role of Tick. I saw it debut on the West End when I was up at drama school.

‘We went to see loads of musicals because we’d get a discount, and I remember Priscilla being my favourite because it was so vibrant and I loved the songs.

‘When I was at drama school, they always said think of the roles you’re capable of playing as a person, because obviously not everyone is suitable for every role.

‘I saw that and thought: “Yeah, I could play that role”.

‘But I never thought I’d ever get the chance to play it because in the West End and on tours it’s usually a celebrity.

‘So when it came up for the Players, I thought: “My god, my dream could come true to play this character.” I’m absolutely thrilled to bits to have the privilege to play it.’

Ed had also seen and loved the film when it first came out.

‘I’m a gay man, and I remember watching it and thinking, there’s a lot of history and grit in there – Australia not being so welcoming to homosexuality, it was quite a poignant film for equal rights.

‘The main thing that struck me was with the equal rights stuff and transgender Bernadette’s journey and their struggles with the world. It’s a classic cult film – a happy-sad film.’

Getting into the character of Tick has been a joy for Ed too.

‘I travelled across Australia so did the same-ish journey about three years ago – so doing all the going to The Outback places and the bars, I’ve seen it first hand where you get stared at for being a little bit different and out of town, so all of those things came into play.

‘As I’ve got into Tick, it’s been really enjoyable, it’s had moments of stress and strain as with any production, but in terms of finding the character, that was quite easy because it’s kind of… me.’

But he adds, that it’s been a total team effort.

‘Without the team, the whole cast to be honest, it wouldn’t be a show. Everyone’s amazing – the divas, they’re amazing, their voices! The two other boys, and my onstage wife, we’ve just been like a little family.

‘Particularly Andrew Warner [Bernadette] and James Bradbury [Felicia], we wouldn’t have a show if we weren’t all there. None of us take a higher ranking, we’re all leads in a way, so it’s lovely to share it with them as they’re very talented performers.

‘I’ve enjoyed the rehearsals and I think they have too.’

PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT

The Kings Theatre, Southsea

October 9-13

kingsportsmouth.co.uk