Lots of the risqué lines, bawdy jokes and swearing has been edited out of the Broadway script. These changes are among many that “Priscilla” has undergone in its journey to Broadway, from the 1994 Australian movie to the musical's first workshop in Sydney in 2005 — and then full productions there and in the West End. The show opens on Broadway on March 20.
Simon Phillips, the musical's director from the start, said that his North American producers — led by the entertainer Bette Midler — have offered extensive notes on polishing “Priscilla” for the highly competitive market of commercial Broadway. “Audiences here like to know, quickly and clearly, who their leading man is,” Mr. Phillips said he had learned, so opening with Miss Understanding might confuse some people.
Ms. Midler said she was among those advising that a musical about two drag queens and a transsexual on a road trip didn't need extra raciness or profanity. One common obscenity, for instance, is used about a dozen times in the Broadway version, down from 18 elsewhere.
“You still get the flavor that has always been part of ‘Priscilla,' but it's not quite as down and dirty, not as in your face so much so that you might pull back,” Ms. Midler said in an interview. “It manages to have all the fun of camp without too much of the dark side of camp and drag. Which for Broadway, I think, is a good thing.”
If “Priscilla” has been pruned to appeal to tourists from Middle America — a lucrative bloc that has helped make some producers here more conservative than those in the West End and Australia — the musical is still more tart, catty and flamboyantly gay than any other major show running in New York.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.