As the most successful Australian musicals of all time, “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” makes its Philadelphia premiere Feb. 26-March 3 at the Academy of Music.
Adapted from the 1994 Academy Award-winning film, the production follows a trio of friends searching for love and friendship on a road trip across the Australian Outback, and features a hit parade of over 20 dance-floor favorites including “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” “Say A Little Prayer,” and others.
Nik Alexzander appears as Miss Understanding, as well as understudying the role of Jimmy. This show marks his Equity debut, which is quite a feather in his cap.
“It’s great to be protected by the union, but this card helps open more doors to me. A lot of people look at a union actor like more of a professional actor, meaning people are more willing to take chances on you,” Alexzander said.
Born in Brooklyn, the actor says he started out singing in church, when someone heard him one day and suggested he would be just right for musical theater. Obviously, they were right, and when he was just 17 years old, he was signed for a tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” However, because of child labor laws in some States, he had to be let go. But two years later, while a student at Northern Kentucky University, he was contacted again for a role. This time, at age 19, he accepted, left school, and was on his way to realizing his dream. Over the years, he’s made that decision pay off. Besides his role in “Jesus Christ,” Alexzander has also appeared in “The Wiz,” “Dreamgirls,” “Hairspray,” “Working” and “Les Miserables.”
And now “Priscilla,” a show that he claims is great fun for the actors and the audience alike. It is the story of two drag queens and a transsexual who contract to perform a drag show at a remote resort town in the Australian desert – i. Adapted from the film, the musical has the three friends encountering a number of strange characters, as well as incidents of homophobia, while widening comfort zones and finding new horizons. Alexzander says he and the rest of the cast were a little nervous touring the show, especially playing in small towns. But they needn’t have worried. “It’s definitely not the easiest of subject matter to deal with,” he said. “So we were really shocked and surprised at people’s responses. No matter where we play the audience gets it, they understand it, and have a lot of fun with it. Thanks goodness!”
With that challenge being faced and overcome, Alexzander says the major one now facing him is staying in great shape. “There’s a lot of skin revealed in the show, so we have to make sure we’re in the best shape possible. That’s difficult on tour because we’re often in hotels with no workout facilities, we live out of suitcases, and can’t often eat as healthfully as we’d like. But we do the best we can, and for my part, I am definitely grateful for it all.”
He’s also grateful for the fact that he may be an inspiration to others. “I remember when I was just a boy watching people on stage and remembering how that made me feel. Watching them perform really touched me and made me want to do exactly what they were doing.”
So today, every time he gets out on the stage he hopes his performance may be doing the same thing for others. He said, “I do believe that every night someone in the audience feels just like I did as a little boy. And for me, that‘s one of the best parts about what I do. It gives me the drive to do the very best I can.”
For times and ticket information, call (215) 731-3333.