From 20 June 2019
The drag queen Mitzi Mitosis – whose real name is Anthony “Tick” Belrose – is performing at a club (“Downtown” [Australia and London]/”I’ve Never Been to Me”; “It’s Raining Men” [Broadway]) when his wife Marion, whom he has been separated from for several years because of his homosexuality, calls in for a favour. While Tick is offstage, fellow drag queen Miss Understanding performs her own number (“What’s Love Got to Do With It?”). From the phone in Tick’s dressing room, Marion reveals that she needs an act for a few weeks at her business in distant Alice Springs, Australia. Tick is at first reluctant, but Marion informs him that part of the reason she’s asking is because their now eight-year-old son Benji wants to meet his father (“I Say A Little Prayer”). Tick confides in another fellow drag queen Farrah, before deciding he will leave for Alice Springs. After he decides to do the job, Tick calls a friend, a transsexual named Bernadette – whose birth name is Ralph – to join him but sadly, Bernadette’s husband has just died. The pair meet at the funeral (“Don’t Leave Me This Way”) where Bernadette agrees to join him. Tick also asks a friend Felicia – whose real name is Adam Whitely – to come with them (“Venus”/”Material Girl”), with Bernadette taking an immediate dislike to his show-off performance style. Nonetheless, the newly formed trio buy a “budget Barbie campervan” they nickname “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (“Go West”). Tick informs them that the trip is a favour to his wife, but does not tell them it is also to meet his son who wants to see him (“I Say A Little Prayer (Reprise)”). As the journey to Alice Springs begins, Adam angers Bernadette after cracking jokes about her old life before being a transsexual. Later the group goes into a bar, in full drag, and start a bar dance party (“I Love the Nightlife”), but when they return to the bus learn that the townspeople wrote hateful statements on the bus in spray paint. Tick is very upset, but Adam and Bernadette comfort him (“Both Sides, Now”/”True Colors”). While on the road, Adam practices his lip-syncing as Felicia sitting in the giant high heel on the roof of the van (“Follie! Delirio vano è questo! Sempre libera (from La traviata)”). The next morning, Priscilla breaks down and Adam buys lavender paint to erase the vandalism (“Colour My World”). They manage to get the locals of another town on their side and meet Bob, a mechanic from a small town nearby who agrees to help fix Priscilla. The group celebrates that they’ve found people that accept them (“I Will Survive”).
The second act opens with a group of bogans singing (“Thank God I’m A Country Boy”). Bernadette talks with Bob and learns that when he was in Paris, he saw her when she was a young “Les Girl” (“A Fine Romance”). The two begin to grow feelings for each other. Later in a bar (“Thank God I’m A Country Boy Reprise”), the trio is about to perform (“Shake Your Groove Thing”) when Cynthia, Bob’s wife, interrupts their act by “popping” ping-pong balls (“Pop Muzik”). After this, the trio leaves, leaving Bob to wonder about his feelings for Bernadette (“A Fine Romance (Reprise)”). All of a sudden, Bernadette asks if he wants a free ride back to his real home, in which he agrees (“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”). Later when they arrive, Adam dresses up like a woman to try to meet men (“Hot Stuff”), but ends up getting chased and nearly becomes the victim of a hate crime until Bernadette rescues him by kicking one of his attackers. Later as they arrive in Alice Springs, Tick reflects on the trip after someone literally leaves the cake out in the rain (“MacArthur Park”). As another act performs first (“Boogie Wonderland”), the trio gets ready to perform a variety of songs that they sang or lip-synced on their journey (“The Floor Show”). Afterwards, Tick finally meets his son, who accepts his father’s sexuality and lifestyle (“Always on My Mind/I Say a Little Prayer”) and Adam gets to perform his own solo Madonna hit, (“Like A Prayer” [Broadway]; “Confide in Me/Kylie Medley” [Australia and London]), his favorite singer. Afterwards the gang talks about their plans after Alice Springs, and realize they can’t leave each other (“We Belong”). They go off stage together and the company performs a medley of songs to close the show (“Finally (Finale)”).
By Arrangement with Nullarbor Productions in association with MGM On Stage
Exclusively licensed by Origin Theatrical Pty Ltd
Queen of the Desert
Written by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott
Based on the Latent Image/Specific Films Motion Picture
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
Musical Arrangements and Orchestrations by Stephen ‘Spud’ Murphy
Developed for the Stage and Original Direction by Simon Phillips
The original motion picture was written and directed by Stephan Elliott, produced by Al Clark and Michael Hamlyn, executive producer Rebel Penfold-Russell and was financed with the assistance of the Film Finance Corporation Australia Limited and the New South Wales Film and Television Office