Sydney’s love affair with big budget musicals is not as over as recent reports suggest, thanks to a couple of old gay icons.

Dusty -“ The Original Pop Diva, charting the life of lesbian singing icon Dusty Springfield, has played to packed houses, and now a stage adaptation of the movie classic The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert has been announced, opening at the Lyric Theatre in October.

With a title shortened to Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, the new $6-million musical will bring to the stage the movie story about three drag performers crossing the country from Sydney to Alice Springs and Kings Canyon.

The show underwent a workshop production a few months ago in Melbourne and proved so successful that the go-ahead was given for the full-scale musical.

The creative team from the Oscar-winning movie, including writer-director Stephan Elliott, costume designer Lizzy Gardiner and producer Michael Hamlyn, have teamed up with director Simon Phillips, designer Brian Thomson and choreographer Ross Coleman for the stage show.

Our responsibility is to put the film on stage, but not filmically, Thomson told Sydney Star Observer. We are doing it theatrically, and in that way I think it is beautiful.

I was so pleased as I watched the workshop. We want audiences to go on this journey and love it, but also to be affected by it because it has such heart. There is such an understanding in the relationships between the three generations of the drag queens, as we are seeing three levels of the way people express themselves.

Thomson, who won Broadway’s Tony Award for his set designs of The King And I, also worked on the Priscilla section of the Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, complete with the bus topped by the giant silver shoe.

He promised both the outback locations and the bus would be key characters of the stage show.

While the cast was yet to be finalised, Thomson said he believed the Priscilla story had stood the test of time and would be as entertaining in 2006 as it was in 1994.

The story is about these people trying to get away from the scene they are disillusioned with, but still in their own ways embracing it, he said. But I would think a show about being who you are is a good way to go in the current John Howard’s Australia.

Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert opens 7 October at the Lyric Theatre. For more information visit the Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert website.

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