“Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” wasn’t supposed to be the opening show to Alley Repertory Theater’s season.
It was originally going to be “The Royale,” a story inspired by the life of Jay Johnson. It tells the story of a Black prizefighter navigating life in the United States in the early 20th century. The show was postponed to March 2022.
Enter “Priscilla,” starting its run Nov. 27 and ending Dec. 19.
The musical is an adaptation of the 1994 Australian film of the same name. The story is of three drag queens and their adventures through the Australian desert in their van named “Priscilla.” The jukebox musical features some wonderfully campy pop songs including “I Say a Little Prayer,” “I Will Survive,” “Shake Your Groove Thing” and more. Needless to say, “Priscilla” is a good time.
It’s a funny, tender and thoughtful story which is exactly what audiences might be in need of now.
“Starting with ‘Priscilla’ just seems right,” said Buffie Main, the founder of Alley Repertory Theater. “People are looking for joy. We’re hungry for joy and for something familiar.”
This is the first show that Alley Rep has done in 20 months. The hiatus served as an opportunity for reflection. From the COVID pandemic to the racism pandemic, Alley Rep took a look at itself and its place in Idaho.
“The pause let us see who we are and our place in Boise,” Main said. “We looked at ourselves and asked have we been as inclusive as we can be?”
The production was given an extra two weeks for rehearsal to accommodate an ever-fluctuating schedule due to COVID. It’s a new world to create theater in but one that must make changes and carry forward, Main said.
“Being in production is still scary,” Main said.
There are some big Boise names in the show — Jodi Eichelberger of Story Story Night and Surel’s Place is playing one of the leads, Leta Harris Neustaedter has a key role in the show, Todd Dunnigan is on keys and one of Boise’s most famous Drag Queens MissFyre is in a lead role.
While Main is serving as director, she can’t take all the credit for putting the show together. With John Hamilton serving as music director and Dugan Jackman choreographing the show, “Priscilla” has become a collaborative effort on all parts.
Main knows it’s hard to work up the energy these days to get out and attend events but she hopes that audiences find that spark to head out and experience “Priscilla” this holiday season.
“Reconnecting is hard but we have to,” Main said. “To choose to go out now takes a few extra steps and more energy but it will feel good when you get there.”
Tickets can be purchased at alleyrep.org. Masks are required when moving through the venue.