Tag Archives: Simon Phillips



HERE at Outernet



“An incredible night out.”

“Priscilla The Party” is joyous, tremendous musical fun. Based on the 1994 Academy Award winner “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, “Priscilla the Party” hails from Australia in 2006. It is a rip-roaring celebration of drag, queerness and camp musical theatre. Each scene is calibrated towards entertainment and intrigue from the start. The story follows ‘Tick’ (Owain Williams) as he travels across Australia to reach his wife (Kimberly Blake) and his child (a stooge) as part of a fabulous trio of drag queens travelling in a bus they christen “Priscilla”. Adam (Reece Kerridge) and Bernadette (Dakota Starr) accompany Tick as he travels throughout Australia battling homophobia, transphobia, making allies, and delivering hit after hit. The show is an immersive experience (developed and directed by Simon Phillips), with staging and actors moving throughout the crowd on the dancefloor. The set (Brian Thomson and Justin Nardella) and direction make great use of the atmosphere of a club with an impressive line up of dance hits from “Say a Little Prayer” to “Born This Way”. A tale of love, adversity and Aussie humour shines with amazing theatrical gravitas throughout.

Every cast member performs with outstanding energy, delivering a varied set of pop/dance songs in a jukebox musical for the ages. The quality of musical performance is high with remarkable talent on display throughout as Queens deliver ballads and romps with equal intensity and stage presence. Beautiful vocals draw us into the story and relay the emotions of the characters. The band are brilliant and you can tell they know they have the best gig in town (Musical Arrangements and Orchestration Stephen ‘Spud’ Murphy). The stage management team work tirelessly to coordinate movement of stages as they weave throughout the crowd. The sound design (Ben Harrison) includes familiar hits, punctuated by topical music in the breaks that ensure a continuation of the party. The multi-media venue makes use of video backgrounds (also Thompson and Nardella) and vibrant club lighting (Per Hörding). The show includes all the best parts of a drag show with all the precision and thought of a well-crafted musical (Musical arrangements and direction Steve Geere). A highlight are the fantastic costumes (Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner) and wigs, delivering camp, classic and heightened drag in the best possible way.

Seated dining experiences are available, though dance floor tickets make up the bulk of audience members who get to join in the concert-like drag-show-esque party atmosphere. “Priscilla the Party” is stunningly unique and totally immersive, taking the audience on a hugely enjoyable road trip through Australia whilst delivering one spectacular party en route. The close to three hours playing time flies by as the colourful scenes progress in and around the gloriously camp ‘Cockatoo Club’. Arrive early to enjoy the full experience, as there are superb opening acts to enjoy. With drag queens and musical actors combining their strengths, “Priscilla The Party” makes for an incredible night out.


Reviewed on 24th March 2024

by Jessica Potts

Photography by Marc Brenner



Recently reviewed by Jessica:

HOSTAGE | ★★★★ | Etcetera Theatre | March 2024
APRICOT | ★★★★ | Theatre503 | March 2024
SARAH QUAND MÊME | | Drayton Arms | February 2024
AMUSEMENTS | ★★★★ | Soho Theatre | February 2024
WISH YOU WEREN’T HERE | ★★★ | Soho Theatre | February 2024
TWO ROUNDS | ★★★ | Jermyn Street Theatre | February 2024



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Songs For Nobodies – 4 Stars


Songs For Nobodies

Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 26th March 2018


“such a talented actor giving an exceptional performance”


This highly recommended production gives two compelling reasons for a theatre visit. Firstly it provides the rare opportunity to see and hear the terrifically talented Australian Bernadette Robinson in this country and secondly to do so at one of the few surviving grand music halls in the world.

This was my first visit to Wilton’s Music Hall though it certainly won’t be my last. Tucked behind a row of terrace properties in Whitechapel, a short walk away from Tower Hill, this building has undergone a sympathetic restoration process over recent years. Entering the venue there is a sense of awe, a feeling of visiting the past which enhances the anticipation of watching the performance.

Once inside the musical hall there was an angled apron stage on which Robinson performed. This area included several items of furniture that she used to extend the visual aspects of the stories she portrayed. Behind her was a three piece band that was positioned on the raised stage, framed by a magnificent proscenium arch. The stage and her clothing were exclusively black.

Songs for Nobodies was written by Joanna Murray-Smith to specifically showcase Robinson’s exceptional vocal talents and her ability to recreate the sounds of legendary female singers. In this one woman show there are five separate monologues which involve singers from entirely different musical worlds. In each she plays both the megastar and the ‘nobody’ whose life is changed in some way by their interaction with one of those great singers.

We first get to meet Bea, a washroom attendant who meets Judy Garland on the night of her famous Carnegie Hall concert in 1961. Her performance of Come Rain or Come Shine sent a shiver down my spine. Next is Pearl, an usherette in Kansas City, who meets Country and Western star Patsy Cline in her dressing room on the night that thirty year old Patsy was killed in a plane crash. She sings two songs including Crazy and the portrayal of her emotionally expressive and bold contralto voice is perfect. The third monologue is both funny and sad. It tells the story of an English librarian whose father was helped by Edith Piaf to escape from a prisoner of war camp. Piaf’s voice is perfectly recreated and of the two songs performed Non, Je ne Regrette Rien is a showstopper.

Billie Holiday has an immediately recognisable voice. Inspired by jazz instrumentalists it was one that pioneered a new way of improvisation, phrasing and tempo. Again Robinson is able to master this in the story of budding journalist Too Junior Jones. Here the ‘nobody’ is a woman of privilege who meets the wonderful singer and acknowledges the obstacles she faced. In this segment there are three songs including Strange Fruit. The final monologue demonstrates perfectly the voice range that Robinson has. We are treated to a stunning version of Puccini’s Vissi D’Arte where years of her studying classical singing are obvious. It is a great story of an Irish nanny for Ari Onassis and his relationship with perhaps the greatest diva of all – Maria Callas.

The audience reaction to the show was an immediate and thoroughly deserved standing ovation. Bernadette Robinson is clearly the star of the show but the overall enjoyment is enhanced by the support she receives when on stage. The three piece backing band is set in the background and never attempts to upstage the singer. There is some remarkable lighting from Malcolm Rippeth who manages to both spotlight and flood the stage superbly. Designer Justin Nardella brings a black understated style to the stage and Justin Teasdale with Tony Gayle produce a perfect sound design in what could be a difficult acoustic hall. Simon Philips directs the show expertly ensuring the audience is never in doubt as to who the star of the show is.

I left the theatre feeling privileged to have witnessed such a talented actor giving an exceptional performance in a wonderful theatre environment. It was a real highlight of my 2018 theatrical year so far. I loved it!


Reviewed by Steve Sparrow

Photography by Nicholas Brittain


Songs For Nobodies

Wilton’s Music Hall until 7th April



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