…but so are the actors and stage management team, I’ve found to my delight. My day job is Associate Director on Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and we’re currently rehearsing the Original Broadway Cast for the Toronto/NY premiere. It’s a big deal to be part of an OBC here – it’s one of the milestones actors are keen to tick off. This is several of our cast’s first OBC and they’re so delighted, including, of course, Australia’s beloved Tony Sheldon, who is recreating again his Bernadette.
I’ve now been part of rehearsing Priscilla with casts on three different continents, and from three different cultures. Some things stay the same – the male ensemble is out, proud and loud, with the Bob cover who is always straight yet can flick that wrist quicker than Bernadette can swat a fly – the girls are always sassy and fun and either brilliant comedians or amazing belters (and usually both) – and everyone always looks bewildered the first time they get into the Gumby shoes (or worse, are made to learn paintbrush poi dancing). But there are subtle attitudinal shifts in every cast that make the experience quite different. What I’ve found here is that the myth of Broadway is actually the fuel that forces every member of the cast to hone their technique (acting, singing, dancing) year after year, for as long as they can – sculpting their talents and their bodies so that they continue to earn the right to be allowed to stay on Broadway.
It’s not uncommon for someone to say, when struggling with a difficult step, moment or Australian pronunciation to say “No – I’ll get it – this is Broadway.” And that is sweet music to the ears of any creative team, because you know the show that you present to the audience is going to be the blue-chippiest you could hope for.
There are some particular cultural choices that surprise. Nary a cast member has a Ricola cough lolly or piece of gum out of their mouth at any given time, and there’s a lot more pushups and abwork being done in the corner than usual.
Priscilla, as is her wont, is being reshaped again for the Broadway premiere. It’s very exciting for us as a team to see this party girl we’ve lived with for almost five years maturing very gracefully into a wiser adult.