2000 people roaring with delight at the enjoyment they’ve just had is pretty loud. We couldn’t have asked for a better response, or a better show than the first Broadway preview of Priscilla. Technically flawless, the show flowed from disco ball drop to party-on-down at the curtain, met with laughter, applause and genuine focus pretty much exactly as we hoped. All audiences are different, and yet, on this show, all first preview audiences have proven very similar – hyped for the good time they very much end up having. From the curtain speech, which got screams and applause the audience made vocally clear their enjoyment at the key early moments – the Diva fly in, the men bursting through the curtain, Tick’s transformation into Mitzi, the reveal of the puppets.
I was very excited for the show, but as curtain drew nearer started feeling nervous – what if this was the first time that our show didn’t jump across the footlights into the lap of the audience? The actors rose admirably to the challenge, thrilled to be performing to their people for the first time. Except Tony, of course, who was thrilled to be performing on the street of his lifelong dreams for the first time. It was interesting which moments were received differently – the audience got “Prayer” on both levels exactly as we’d hoped, and they really went with the “Fuck Off Faggots” moment, seeming pretty upset for our leads. The shoe coming off the bus didn’t get the applause it normally does on it’s reveal, but then got three rounds as it progressed out over the audience. They seemed to love the “national dancing” of the Tourists, laughing as the Japanese, Scots and Germans joined in.
Interval was a chance for Simon to confer with our producing team and assess the feel. Which was positive. Back for a rousing “Country Boy” the show shot through to the end, with the audience on their feet by the middle of “Finally”. Where they resolutely stayed until the curtain finally came down on the genuinely overwhelmed cast members. They said the screaming was so loud they couldn’t hear the band during the number.
Afterwards was a frenzy at stage door – there were so many people clamouring for the actors’ attention. My friend Alison came – she’s done tons of Broadway shows and been nominated for two Tony awards – and said the joy the show creates is overwhelming. Which is exactly the adjective we hope the audience leaves feeling (Can you feel an adjective?) She adored Tony, the choreography, the colour and particularly the buffness of our male ensemble. And was very impressed at the accent work, having suffered through doing Australian in Prodigal off-Broadway 8 years ago. Especially lovely was having our Australian swing Travis at the show – he was crying afterwards, so proud of how far our show had come since he last performed it in 2008.
One of our producers threw a party afterwards in an amazing Penthouse in the Platinum building. Two levels, looking out across this amazing city, an open vodka bar, it was the perfect place to decompress on that milestone and talk about where to go now over the next three weeks.