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Costumes louder than microphones in "Priscilla Queen of the Desert"

Staff Writer

"Priscilla Queen of the Desert" is fun, fierce, fabulous and a couple of other "F" words I could mention.

Y'know, like ... um ... fey, fast and fashion-y.

Boy, oh, boy (make that girl, oh, girl) is "Priscilla" fashion-y. The exuberant costumes take over the road tour setting down twice in South Florida: now at the Arsht Center in Miami through Sunday, and later at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach from April 23 through 28.


Maybe by then the show will have worked through its sound problems, which practically sabotaged Tuesday night's opening with a murky mix that left the disco-fied score of club classics — such as "It's Raining Men," "I Will Survive" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" — thumping so loudly that the vocals were frequently lost.

That's a shame, because the story based on the 1994 Australian movie about two transvestites and a transsexual crossing the Outback in a bus on their way to a casino show and a family reunion doesn't really have all that much to say to begin with. The script here hasn't added much newness to the big-screen version, even though the writers have had almost 20 years to think of some new lines.

No biggie. The show is content to move on to the next ta-dah costume, and they are real dazzlers. About 90 seconds in, you realize that few concepts on this mortal plane are more Broadway-spectacle-ready than drag queens with a bus in which to store a voluminous Crayola-colored wardrobe. In the finale, the musical's book abandons all pretense and surrenders to a parade of costumes from the Oscar- and Tony-winning team of Lizzy Gardiner and Tim Chappel.


And, yes, the show is pretty gay-riffic. It's surprising how much pec-peeking and ab-adoring is going on for a show resting on glittery cross-dressing dress-up.

Underneath the cacophony of costumes is a pretty terrific cast. Tick/Mitzi (played opening night by understudy Chris Klink), Bernadette (Scott Willis) and Adam/Felicia (Bryan West) push their characters' personalities' front and center.

Lesser men would have been overwhelmed by the industrial-strength camp.

"Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical" runs through April 7 at Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., in Miami. Showtimes are 8 p.m. through Saturday; 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets start at $26. Call 305-949-6722 or go to

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