Mention drag queens and one would think of them sharp-tongued, flamboyant, and vain. Well, if Priscilla: Queen of the Desert could be considered the definitive story of these entertainers, then we’d say those stereotypes are true to a certain extent. But there’s something more, as explored in the stage play.


Priscilla follows 3 friends as they embark on a journey across the Australian desert to perform a comeback concert at an Alice Springs resort.


Tick (otherwise known as Mitzi) is a retired drag queen who lives away from his ex-wife and 7 year old son. He feels his son won’t accept his lifestyle and grapples with his conscience. He simply tells his son that he’s in “show business”.



The classy Bernadette (played by Jon Santos) is one of Tick’s old friends from the drag-queen scene and a transsexual. Bernadette comes off as arrogant and sharp-tongued, but later reveals a heart larger than her tassled skirts.


The liveliest of the lot, Adam, is a drag queen with an insatiable zest for life. Red Concepcion, who played Adam, is a force to be reckoned with, prancing around the stage and having several song-and-dance sequences, one of which in he imagined himself to be the goddess Venus.




Who’s Priscilla then? That’s actually the tour bus our heroines used to trek across the desert. For a vehicle ferrying 3 entertainers of their standing, Priscilla could have been more dolled-up than just a white bus.


Silver streamers and glitering disco ball are hung from the ceiling of the stage, a throwback to discotheques in the 80s.. Speaking of discotheques, we can’t leave out the music that got us on our feet! The best of disco music (or drag queen anthems) from Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Patti Labelle to even Kylie Minogue livened up the mood. It didn’t feel like a play but rather part dance-party, and part trip-down-memory-lane for the Gen X audience.



A trio of divas always appears at the right time and place to accompany Tick, Bernadette and Adam during their song sequences despite the numerous costume changes.


This writer loves how each character has a distinct wardrobe. Bernadette goes for A-line silhouettes, floral prints and high collars, sometimes accessorizing with a hat piece or elbow-length gloves. Adam rocks the vixen-meets-Miley Cyrus look, strutting his stuff in booty shorts and leotards. Tick is mainly attired in loose button-downs and pajama pants.


Besides the dazzling fashion, the friendship flourishes between Bernadette, Adam and Tick. From business partners, they gradually see each other as family. Most notably, Bernadette and Adam are an amusing pair to watch with their sharp repartee and callous banter.


As the play progresses, the characters will strike a chord in your heart. We see how Bernadette get over her insecurities to give herself a chance at true love, and how Tick considered his son’s acceptance as a turning point in his life. A scene where Adam is attacked by a group of homophobic men at a pub is especially pivotal to show the hurt and prejudice faced. The audience is moved to tears, compelled to feel, and stand up for them.


Priscilla is a riot of color, conundrums and fit-inducing humor with a story of love, friendship and acceptance at its center. It showed us the spirit, effort and pride that drag queens put into perfecting and performing their art.


Ultimately, Priscilla teaches us that love is love is love, and everyone can be anyone they want to be. But with understanding and acceptance, everyone will be able to find their place in their world.


Directed by: Jaime del Mundo


Michael Williams (Tick/Mitzi)

Jon Santos (Bernadette)

Red Concepcion (Adam/Felicia)

Jonathan Lim (Miss Understanding)

Ring Antonio, Lani Ligot, Timmy Canlas (Divas)

Photographs courtesy of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert Facebook Page