4 reasons why you should see INNOVAtheatre’s ‘Priscilla’

INNOVAtheatre, an up-and-coming troupe devoted to diversity and inclusivity, offers the regional premiere of the rousing and heartwarming 2011 jukebox musical "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" at MJ's on Jefferson beginning Thursday, Sept. 21.

Here are four reasons why you might want to shake your groove thing.


Based on the 1994 film of the same name, the musical tells an account of two drag queens (Jeff Weinkam as Tick/Mitzi and David Baker as Adam/Felicia) and a transgender woman (Tony Williams as Bernadette) who embark on a memorable adventure across the Australian outback on the titular bus. Love, loss, acceptance, and empowerment are among the themes uniting this colorful trio.

MORE ON STAGE: 5 reasons you won’t want to miss this ‘Mamma Mia!’

"This is a relevant story," said director/founder Richard Lee Waldeck, a longtime fan of the film. "Everything the (LGBT community) is going through is (relevant) to this story today. We're still being ostracized, still being pushed out of the military. People just don't understand who we are and what we're all about. That's one of the reasons I wanted to do this show and I'm very proud to be able to present it."


Unlike some jukebox musicals devoted to one particular catalog such as “Mamma Mia!” (ABBA) or “All Shook Up” (Elvis Presley), “Priscilla” runs the gamut of disco and pop with a slew of hits including “It’s Raining Men,” “I Love the Nightlife,” “Hot Stuff,” “I Will Survive,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” and “MacArthur Park.”

10 arts events you will regret missing this season

"One of the things I love about this show is that the three principals are all completely different and each has great songs," Waldeck said. "And their journey ties together so well at the end with a wonderful finale. I really think the audience is going to like the fact that the show doesn't leave you wondering at the end."


Originally Waldeck planned to do a smaller, concert version but recently opted for a minimally staged version notably featuring choreography by Maddy Fessler. “The cast is not going to be sitting on chairs behind music stands,” he said. “The audience is actually going to see the bell-bottomed costumes and a big seven-foot shoe. I’m also incorporating digital backdrops. Although I was going to do a concert version at first, I rethought the idea because I didn’t want our first big show to be labeled as boring.

"This will be the first show everyone sees and I wanted to set the bar high and show people what we're all about even though it's small venue. I want people to see quality and also want them to see what we can do even if we were in a bigger facility. But we are grateful to MJ's for giving us the space because it's a great venue."

ICYMI: Guild presents powerful Arthur Miller drama ‘All My Sons’


The company's mission puts inclusivity at the heart of everything it does. The vision of the troupe celebrates "innovation through inclusion, exploration and the fusing together of the known and unexpected." "We cast on talent first," said INNOVA board member Jamie Pavlofsky. "Theater audiences tend to have ideas in their head about the way a role should be portrayed and we want to challenge that. We're here to open people's eyes (meaning) we might cast a role color blind. It might mean a gender-bend. It might even mean an actor in one of our shows has a disability. Taking the stance of talent first allows us to be as inclusive and innovative as we can."


What: "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert"

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Where: MJ's on Jefferson, 20 N. Jefferson St., Dayton.

Cost: $20-$25

More info: innovatheatre.com

About the Author