Blue Barn Theatre to Show “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”
May 16th, 2017
Photo courtesy of Blue Barn Theatre
Omaha, NE—One of the appeals of the Blue Barn Theatre’s production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert has to be the set design. Some of the main features of this Thursday’s opening night?- a rainbow painted floor, curtain hand tied with plastic bags, and a custom designed bus, the centerpiece of the stage and plot of the musical. Behind the scenes, Artistic Director of the Blue Barn, Susan Clement-Toberer, showed me the construction of Priscilla.
Based on the ’90s Australian cult classic film, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the uplifting musical has been performed at some of the top theaters across the world. Two drag performers and a transgender woman take a wild journey across the Australian outback for a performance with their newly purchased bus, Priscilla, and the show features hit songs from artists, such as Tina Tunrner, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper.
According to Toberer. The style of Priscilla’s unique set design was decided after a conversation with Jenny Pool.
“She brought up the point that back in the original drag shows, the drag queens would make their own costumes—still do to this day—but out of recycled, found materials and they also would create their sets that way for their performances,” Toberer said. “And she was going to do and is doing using recycled materials and some of her costumes, and we were very a little bit fearful. How does Blue Barn put a big Priscilla bus on stage? Broadway was a huge spectacle, and how were we going to Blue Barn the process, and so we brainstormed from Jenny’s idea and decided that recycling and using plastic bags and plastic bottles and things like that in our set and building our bus was the right way to go.”
The same work that went into the design of the bus and costumes went into the curtain, which is not your typical red or black fabric.
“The front curtain is made of, we think it’s over probably twelve thousand plastic bags, the bags you get from Baker’s,” Toberer said. “And all over different colors—it looks like giant boas to me. It is magnificent, so really that is not only what we’re using for Priscilla but it’s also the process of how we create here at Blue Barn, and it really has evolved and is still evolving the different ideas of how to use reclaimed materials on this set.”
When the film was released in 1994, it made a powerful message for the LGBT community, and Toberer believes that message is still is important today.
“Well this is our season closer and our season title so to speak was identity and this play falls under that category in how do we express ourselves, how do we identify ourselves, how do we think people view us?” Toberer said. “How does that matter to us and it really is another shout out to [the fact that] it is a wonderful thing in our country to be able to be your authentic self and be supported and not be berated for who you are and how you’ve chosen to live your life.”
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert will run at the Blue Barn Theatre this Thursday the 18th through Saturday at 7:30pm and Sundays, June 4, 11, 18, and 25 at 6:00pm.
“This play is fun it’s funky, it’s outrageous and flashy, and at the same time the core of it still resonates very much in the political field, and it’s and I’m super proud that we’re doing this play right now.”
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