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April 23, 2014

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Photos: Exuberant ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ sashays to The Venetian

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Joan Marcus

The musical “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”

It will be a desert odyssey when the musical “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” starts the trek on I-15 through Death Valley from Los Angeles to take up its new home at The Venetian this month.

In fact, it will take nine trucks to move the cast, crew, wardrobe and scenery here. Almost two trucks alone will be used for the 500-plus wild, colorful costumes packed in 40 wardrobe gondolas and another eight boxes alone for the wacky and outrageous hairpieces.

When they arrive at the theater that formerly housed “Phantom — the Las Vegas Spectacular,” that load-in will take about 16 hours, complete with assembly of the mobile, twinkling touring bus that travels to the Australian Outback.

I raced in and out of L.A. to catch the fabulously fun show at Pantages Theater before the June 20 opening here. G-strings shot from The Phantom’s chandelier? I was covered in colored ribbons and confetti fired in the theater there. You’ll want to shine in the sequins, too.

“The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” was released in 1994, and I loved the Australian comedy drama with Terence Stamp in an unforgettable role and solid supporting work from Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving as his fellow female impersonators.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical

The musical Launch slideshow »

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

The Broadway and London musical is just as great on tour and a technical marvel when you consider that producers engineered a “Priscilla” bus to drive onstage. The disco hit parade of more than 20 dance-floor classics — “I Will Survive,” “It’s Raining Men,” “Hot Stuff” and “I Love the Nightlife” — is a hand-clapping, foot-stomping, exuberant sing-along. Call it an eye-popping extravaganza with mile-high wigs, matching heels and a zany wardrobe using all colors of the rainbow.

The trio of friends on the road trip of a lifetime are actor-singers Wade McCollum, Scott Willis (who worked here in the musical “42nd Street” in the 1980s) and Bryan West, whose mother was born and raised here and whose grandfather was Las Vegas Fire Department chief for nearly 25 years.

All told me backstage at the Pantages that they are looking forward to their Las Vegas run and settling into one place for an extended period. This naughty night out with drag queens is exuberance. This is a party packed with pow, revelry ringed with rich, ribald humor and delirious dance action.

With songs made famous by Tina Turner, The Village People and Donna Summer, this is a feel-good summer sensation. You exit on a real high.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

I’ll have my full review next week before the June 18 opening here for its summer run before it moves to San Francisco on Aug. 21. The tour also hits Denver, Houston, San Diego and Sacramento before wrapping in Seattle.

Stephan Elliot, who wrote the book, screenplay and directed the film, says he got the idea for the movie when he saw a feather blow off a drag queen’s headdress at Sydney’s Mardi Gras. The out-of-this-world costumes for the film and musical were awarded Oscar and Tony awards, respectively.

You know I love fun facts: There are 295 ostrich feather plumes in the costumes and headdresses. During the Broadway pre-tour run, there were 1,500 makeup remover wipes each week and 24 pairs of eyelashes for each performance. Each month, the cast goes through 175 tubes of lipstick, 75 pots of eye shadow and 2 pounds of glitter. Just to remove the glitter takes 12 rolls of packing tape a week.

There are some 65 wig changes in the show, the fastest in 15 seconds. All told, there are more than 500 costumes, 60 wigs, 150 pairs of shoes and more than 200 hats and headdresses in the show. The cast uses nine styles of eyelashes, the longest pair at 3 1/2 inches.

Get your tickets now for this must-see show. It’s a winner with an incredible story, brilliant acting, fabulous music, great dancing and sensational singing from curtain up to the end when you don’t want it to come down.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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