Between the Australian films, “The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” and “Muriel’s Wedding” helping to usher in a revival of attention to ABBA and their music, it seems that ABBA’s stage musical, “Mamma Mia!” has helped usher in what has been dubbed the era of the “Pop-sical” a musical based on established Pop music catalogues. While a lot of musicals based on bands and movies have been short lived, some such as “Hairspray” have gone onto success in both stage and movie form. In truth, a stage musical based on “The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” has more in kin with “Hairspray” than it does with “Mamma Mia!” in that both Priscilla and Hairspray are the musical adaptions of films, it’s that Priscilla’s film actually has several key references to ABBA.
No doubt due to the fact that ABBA’s catalogue has now been transformed into a successful musical in it’s own right, the powers that be didn’t want to dilute that success by allowing the makers of “Priscilla” the opportunity to use ABBA songs once again in it’s new stage version. In a way it’s kind of sad, but as they say, challenges tend to be the mother of creativity and not to be deterred, the stage musical has adapted in a way to weed out the ABBA references and incorporate a lot of other music not originally tied to the film.
In any case, what has resulted is a stage musical that is a true “pop-sical” that tells the story of two drag queens and a transsexual as they travel from Sydney to Alice Springs through the Australian Outback through the use familiar Pop music all sung by the cast. With the exception of the ABBA songs, many of the key songs from the film like “I Will Survive”, “Shake Your Groove Thing” and “I Love The Nightlife”, “Finally”, and “I’ve Never Been To Me” have made the transition to the stage show. Joining the show are several other Pop songs familiar to folks who grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s with songs popularized by the likes of Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Bananarama, Donna Summer, and Kylie Minogue that were not in the original film. Favorite additions are the very Australian interpretations of John Denver’s “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” and M’s “Pop Muzik” which now serves as the song during the famed Ping Pong Ball sequence.
While I have not seen the actual show as it’s only been performed in Australia and New Zealand (where those lucky New Zealander’s have gotten Bill Hunter to reprise his role from the film on the stage). However, I have enjoyed the soundtrack from the musical and have welcomed it to my collection. If you’re interested in picking up your own copy, CD-Wow carries it, click here for the US site where it is $21.99 or click here for the UK site where it is £10.99 and do a search for “Priscilla Queen Stage Musical” and look for the CD with the cover matching the image here. You won’t regret adding this to your collection.