I intended to write a thoughtful treatise on the state of American theater vis-à-vis "Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical."
But then a large piece of glitter wafted into my eye, I exclaimed "Oy, mate, that bloody well hurts!" and I flounced out to a dance club instead.
And that, in a nutshell, is "Priscilla Queen of the Desert": Sparkly costumes, Australian accents, attitude-filled drag queens and thumping disco tunes.
It's like "Xanadu" — but without the emotional depth. "Mamma Mia!" — but without the intellectual nuances.
Yes, I'm being catty — but surely Tick, Adam and Bernadette the drag queen-transsexual trio at the heart of "Priscilla" would approve.
Cattiness aside, if I was writing on what "Priscilla" says about the state of American theater, I would have to conclude that sometimes it's enough for a show to be loud, colorful and land a lot of obvious laughs. Tuesday's opening-night audience was lapping up every innuendo-laden quip, applauding the opening strains of every 1970s or '80s hit, and oohing and ahhing over every costume change. I heard squeals of joy — squeals — as the opening lines of Diana Ross's "MacArthur Park" began to play.
"Priscilla," then, is like a Twinkie on the theater buffet. Your brain knows it's not actually good for you, but sometimes it's just what your tired soul needs.
For those unfamiliar with the 1994 movie that inspired the musical, here's the plot, such as it is: Drag queens Tick, or "Mitzi," and Adam ("Felicia") team with transsexual pal Bernadette to travel across the Australian Outback to perform a show in remote Alice Springs. Tick hasn't told the other two that it's a reunion with his secret wife and the 6-year-old son he has never met.
No, there's no explanation given of why Tick's wife is so extremely understanding, or how the complicated nature of human sexuality — look! A giant cupcake costume! With green icing! And shiny sprinkles!
Yes, the costumes steal the show. These are costumes that would have the drag queens at Orlando's Parliament House sobbing their false eyelashes off in unmitigated jealousy.
Designed by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, the fabulous frocks range from the aforementioned cupcakes to depicting the Sydney Opera House to pink-tipped paintbrushes.
The music design is fun, too, featuring songs such as Madonna's "Material Girl" and Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." The singing's heavy lifting is handled by divas — no, really, that's what the program calls them — Emily Afton, Bre Jackson and Brit West, whose big voices fill the hall.
Leading actors Wade McCollum (Tick), Scott Willis (Bernadette) and Bryan West (Adam) sing, too, but are completely outvoiced by their female co-stars.
One to keep an eye on: Nik Alexzander, who does a fierce Tina Turner impression.
"Priscilla Queen of the Desert" doesn't promise anything more than a good time. It delivers what it promises in a big, glittery box with a giant pink bow.
'Priscilla Queen of the Desert'
• What: Broadway touring production of the campy musical based on the film
• Length: 2:30, including intermission
• Where: Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, 401 W. Livingston St., Orlando
• When: 8 p.m. today through Friday, April 19; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 20; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 21
• Tickets: $41 and up
• Call: 1-800-982-2787
• Online: OrlandoBroadway.comCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun