Reviewed by: Bob Douglas Highly Recommended Pride Films and Plays present Priscilla, Queen of the…
Lauren Paris joins cast of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Pride Films and Plays is pleased to announce the addition of Lauren Paris to the cast of its critically acclaimed and Jeff-recommended Chicago premiere of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. Beginning with the Thursday, February 16 performance, Paris will become one of the “Three Divas,” alongside Tuesdai B. Perry and Rebecca Coleman, who are continuing in the production.Chicago actress Alexis J. Rogers once described Lauren as a “glam goof”. And that pretty much sums it up. A Seattle native, Lauren graduated with degrees in theatre and communication studies from Loyola University Chicago, where she received the J. Pat Miller Scholarship (the University’s only acting award), which is awarded yearly to the junior theatre major who shows the highest acting potential.
Having made her professional debut while still at Loyola, Lauren spent her first year out of college in the first professional Chicago productions of Spring Awakening (directed by Jonathan Berry, Griffin Theatre Company) and Rent (directed by David Cromer, American Theatre Company/About Face Theatre), both of which were nominated for 2012 Jeff Awards for Best Musical. Since, she has worked with The Hypocrites/The Mercury, Theatre at The Center, Haven Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Emerald City Theatre, Chicago Cabaret Project, Pastiche Productions, and Big Noise Theatre.
Pride Films and Plays’ production of the Tony Award-winning musical, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, the company’s inaugural production in their two-stage Pride Arts Center, is halfway through its extended run, which will now close on Sunday, March 12. The Jeff-recommended musical, which began previews on January 12and opened for the press on January 15, earned raves from critics across the board and has been bringing mid-winter smiles to the faces of hundreds of patrons in sold out houses during its first weeks of performances.
Priscilla is performed in The Broadway, the center’s 85-seat theatre at 4139 N. Broadway and is co-directed by Executive Director David Zak and Artistic Associate Derek Van Barham. Artistic Associate Robert Ollis is Music Director, Jon Martinez choreographer and Jeff Award-winner John Nasca designed the costumes. The trio of performers – two drag queens and a transgender woman – who traverse the Australian Outback in a beaten-up bus nicknamed “Priscilla” are played by Honey West, Jordan Phelps and Luke Meierdiercks, with Jill Sesso, Tuesdai B. Perry and Rebecca Coleman as the three Divas and John Cardone as Bob.
West plays Bernadette, the transgender performer portrayed by Terence Stamp in the original film on which the musical was based. West is a longtime Chicago performer of musical theater and cabaret who has appeared in such productions as Dirty Dreams of a Clean Cut Kid, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Diva Diaries, Jerry’s Girls, Tony and Tony’s Wedding and Pussy on the House, where she received a Best Actress Award from Broadway World.com. She has won two After Dark awards for Outstanding Cabaret. Zak believes this is the first time a trans actress has played Bernadette.
PFP company member and two-time Jeff Award nominee Jordan Phelps (with nominations for Principal Actor in a Musical for Pride Films and Plays’ Songs from an Unmade Bed and Supporting Actor in a Musical for Theo Ubique’s Blood Brothers) plays Tick, the performer with an ex-wife and a young son who is anxious about the upcoming reunion with them at the end of the bus journey. Some of Phelps other roles include Under a Rainbow Flag and Angry Fags (Pride Films and Plays), Fly by Night, Blood Brothers, A Kurt Weill Cabaret (Theo Ubique) and The 39 Steps (Theater at the Center).
Completing the trio is Luke Meierdiercks as the hunky and mischievous Adam. Meierdiercks won hearts and critical praise in 2015 for his portrayal of Peter Allen’s lover Greg Connell in Pride Films and Plays’ The Boy from Oz. Luke has also appeared in The Boys Upstairs, The Boys in Briefs (Pride Films and Plays) and The Story of a Story (Underscore Theatre).
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert the Musical is the heartwarming, uplifting adventure of three friends, Tick, Bernadette and Adam, a glamorous Sydney-based performing trio who agree to take their show to the middle of the Australian outback. They hop aboard a battered old bus (nicknamed Priscilla) searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they ever could have ever dreamed of. With a dazzling array of John Nasca costumes and a hit parade of dance floor favorites including “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” Hot Stuff,” “Go West,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and “I Love the Nightlife,” this wildly funny and touching musical is a journey to the heart of FABULOUS! This Tony Award-winning musical based on the smash-hit movie of the same name enjoyed a 16-month run on Broadway.
Performances Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 3:30 PM.
Tickets are $40 for reserved seats, $30 general admission. Ten percent of the tickets for each performance are $10 Access Seats available for students, seniors, or artists who cannot afford the other prices.
ABOUT PRIDE FILMS AND PLAYS
Pride Films and Plays changes lives through the generation of diverse new work (or work that is new to Chicago) with LGBTQ+ characters or themes that is essential viewing for all audiences. We accomplish this mission through fully-staged productions, writing contests and staged readings, film screenings, and special events. We foster long term relationships with artists to create programming that is as diverse, unique, and complex as the community we represent. In 2015, Huffington Post called PFP “A powerful and empowering entity.” The company acquired its two performance spaces at 4139 and 4147 N. Broadway in July 2016, renaming the spaces the Pride Arts Center.
ABOUT PRIDE ARTS CENTER
Pride Arts Center includes the 50 seat Buena and 85 seat Broadway, and is a home to PFP along with other companies who share our mission for theatrical excellence. Guest productions in 2017 will include work by Red Tape Theater and Walkabout Productions, Clock Theater, Underscore Theater, Another Door Repertory, About Face Youth Theater, Cor Theater, and New American Folk Theater. Each company will handle their own tickets sales and we will share marketing and promotion efforts. For rental information for rehearsal or performance, visit www.prideartscenter.com.
Pride Films and Plays is supported by The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at The Richard Driehaus Foundation, The Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago’s City Arts Fund, the Elliott Fredland Charitable Trust, Proud to Run, the AmazonSmile Foundation, Arts and Business Foundation, Tap Root Foundation and Alphawood Foundation.