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By June, the extravagant ‘Priscilla’ will be ready to rumble

They come in all shapes and sizes: A cast shot of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert — The Musical.”
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Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - from

Performers -- and Priscilla -- are all aglow in "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert -- The Musical."

Performers -- and Priscilla -- are all aglow in "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert -- The Musical."

This is a question of “emphasis.”

The plot of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert -- The Musical” incorporates many mainstream elements, including a father-son duet of “Always on My Mind” and “I Say a Little Prayer.”

But the musical’s storyline is not so middle-of-the-fairway, centering on three drag queens rumbling across The Australian Outback in a semi-reliable bus dubbed “Priscilla.”

This being Las Vegas, one guess as to which of “Priscilla’s” qualities is being emphasized.

“On the road, the marketing for the show has been more mainstream Broadway, showing the family aspect of it,” says Scott Zeiger, co-CEO of BASE Entertainment. “All of the great aspects we’re going to embrace in Las Vegas, they are secondary in other cities. We’re making a big deal out of the costumes and the outlandish drag element, the crazy disco songs.

“Yes, there is a warm story, but …”

But the show stars two transvestites and a female transsexual. And a nonplussed, hetero mechanic.

BASE is the producer of the road version of “Priscilla,” which parks at Venetian Theater for an 11-week run beginning June 18. The show is a buoyant, even airy, summer booking in the old Phantom Theater.

“There are a combination of factors of why we like the show in Las Vegas,” Zeiger said in a phone interview last week. “It’s a party show, full of dance music and disco songs. It’s a summer booking, for people to have a good time, and it’s a good, strong show that worked out to be a good anchor for the tour overall.”

The show heads to Denver after playing Las Vegas, nullifying the likelihood of an extension after the 11-week commitment at The Venetian.

The show is going to breeze through town without requiring any serious modifications to the theater. Its main set piece is the bus itself, a gigantic facade with scenery inside. Similar to the big chandelier in “Phantom -- the Las Vegas Spectacular” (still in a fixed position atop the theater) and the vast barricade in “Les Miserables,” the bus is a signature effect.

But the show is most famous for its soundtrack. “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” “Material Girl,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” “Always on My Mind” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” The costumes, 500 in all, are a color burst of feathers and sequins and have won a Tony Award on Broadway and an Academy Award for the 1994 film.

“It’s a party show, a totally great, fun show,” Zeiger reiterates. “Yes, there is a great, warm story, but there is an alternative element to it, and we’re ready to embrace that.”

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John Katsilometes is a columnist and magazine writer for the Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Weekly and editor-at-large for ...

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