As Nick Adams left the stage following a matinee performance of Broadway’s La Cage aux Folles last year, he headed to his dressing room and discovered a voicemail message from his agent. He looked at one of his co-stars and said that he knew exactly what the message said. It would be about Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, a new musical, which at that point was casting for an upcoming Broadway production. Adams’ agent had phoned to tell the actor that producers wanted to see him for one of the leading roles. “From that point on, I knew that I had to do everything in my power to get the part,” Adams recently told me before heading to Broadway’s Palace Theatre where Priscilla is now running.
Based on the 1994 Australian film, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the stage musical has already played to sold-out audiences in Australia beginning in 2006, and recently made its North American debut with a production in Toronto, Canada, where Adams joined fellow actors Will Swenson and Tony Sheldon as they fine-tuned the show before taking it to Broadway. Priscilla is the story of three friends who head out on an adventure across the Australian outback, each in search of something missing in their lives.
The personal journey Adams took to make it onboard the battered bus Priscilla’s three characters travel in was a challenge, making that voicemail in his dressing room all the more poignant. “Initially I went in and auditioned well over a year ago for the role,” Adams said. Before he could hear back from the Priscilla team, he landed a role in La Cage aux Folles. He then discovered that the producers wanted to “continue looking for someone else to play the role” he had been auditioning for, but that they were interested in him remaining a part of the project. “I just had a feeling in my gut that something was going to change and the part in Priscilla was going to come my way.”
It would take another two months after hearing his agent’s message and re-auditioning before Adams was officially offered a lead role in Priscilla, marking his first starring turn on Broadway. “I’ve been working on Broadway for the last six years, but I haven’t had an opportunity like this yet,” he said.
That opportunity is to play the character of “Adam,” who is also known in the show by his drag queen persona “Felicia,” played in the movie version by Guy Pearce. It’s a role that Adams feels closely associated with, mostly due to his not feeling accepted while growing up.
“My character uses his drag persona as an extension of himself when he becomes ‘Felicia,’ allowing him to do things that he wouldn’t do in everyday life,” Adams said. “That’s why I got into performing. It was a community that embraced me and celebrated my differences. Although my parents have been very accepting, I came from a broken home and there were people that weren’t very accepting of me.”
Adams and the entire Priscilla team have now opened in New York and recently finished recording the show’s cast album. Audiences can look forward to hearing such familiar songs as “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” and “Like A Prayer,” the latter being Adams favorite moment in the show. “I’m on stage by myself, singing Madonna,” he said. “It reminds me of the times that I would dance around in my living room as a kid to that song.”
He now gets a chance to do that on a Broadway stage every night in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, now at the Palace Theatre. For more information visit the show’s website.
I originally wrote this article for BroadwayDirect.com.