Theatre Review: Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert, Empire Theatre, Liverpool starring Joe McFadden & Miles Western

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Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert

Format: Musical
Genre: Comedy
Writer: Ian Talbot
Cast: Joe McFadden, Miles Western, Nick Hayes & Daniel Fletcher
Review Date: November 11 2019
Performances: November 11-16 2019, 7.30pm & 2.30pm matinees
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Duration: 150 Minutes incl. interval
Age Rating: 13+

Bright, vibrant, funny, colourful, sometimes touching and thoughtful – Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert has it all, and it has returned to the Empire Theatre.


The audience were ready to party with some dressed up to the nines. Enviable make-up skills, wigs the size of small children and sky-high heels were in evidence and the Liverpool Empire was a fitting venue for the ‘do’!

Based on the Oscar-winning 1990s movie, the musical is an uplifting story of drag queens Mitzi/Tick, Bernadette and wild child Adam/Felicia – who hop aboard a battered old bus (that’s Priscilla) heading for Alice Springs and the chance to perform in a casino run by Tick’s wife Marion from an earlier lifetime and son Benji who he has rarely seen.

Song and dance illustrates their personal journey of discovery and the adventures they experience along the way. The audience is transported to the dry and deserted landscape of the Australian Outback and we meet some of the locals who aren’t quite sure what to make of the visitors!

The costumes are wildly extravagant and fabulously flamboyant. Feather boas, leather, amazing wigs and false eyelashes to die for – we were in for a party. Every song in the show is a pop and disco classic and the dancefloor favourites keep on coming – including I Will Survive, Hot Stuff, Go West and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. The audience were loving it!

Outstanding vocals to accompany the accomplished miming by the Queens were provided by the Divas – Aiesha Pease, Rossie Glossop and Claudia Kariuki. Bringing a touch of Aretha they brought loads of energy and musicality to the show.

The trio’s big moment in Alice Springs benefits from some really clever staging, with the three leads turning their backs on the theatre as if performing to an unseen audience. A curtain opens and closes, each time revealing new costumes and appearing to fast forward the show. Mitzi’s son Benji loves their performance and show and heart-warming relationships are formed and ignited.


The cast complement each other wonderfully. Joe McFadden shines as Tick ‘Mitzi’ with brilliant singing and dancing. Miles Western in the role of ‘Bernadette’ provides spot on timing with the delivery of each ascerbic comment and joke, as well as providing a softness in moments of reflection. Nick Hayes as Adam ‘Felicia’ is fabulous darling, showcasing a real arrogance of a young Queen trying to take on the world. With legs to die for, great vocals and talented dance moves, he pulls this role off making it all look easy! I also must mention the outstanding vocals provided by the Divas; Aiesha Pease, Rossie Glossop and Claudia Kariuki. These brilliant women provide all the belting riffs you could wish for, bringing a buzz of energy to the stage.


There are some serious moments that remind us of the discrimination that still exists towards the LGBT and trans community, but those add to the light and shade of the show and do not overtake the overall joy of this lively and entertaining production. Don’t miss Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert!


Target Audience: Adults Aged 25-45
Content: 3/5 – Infrequent Strong Language, Frequent Moderate Sex References
Recommendation?: Yes
Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding

Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert runs at the Empire Theatre until Saturday November 16. To buy tickets, click here or call 0844 871 3017.