They say that no one should rest on their laurels. When it comes to The Dolls, they go way beyond that. Founder Ken Ansloan, after a successful run with their last show, Cinderella, An E! True Hollywood Story, decided they needed to take their next show one step further. Making the decision to direct and become Executive Producer of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical, led to many first for the drag ensemble. Ansloan and Co-Director and Producer, Jessica Osbourne, sat down with PRIDE & Equality and New Mexico Entertainment for a dual interview to talk about their decision to take on this beloved show and what they have in store.
You chose a very larger-than-life to produce here in Albuquerque. Why Priscilla?
Ken Ansloan: I wanted to take The Dolls to the next level and do a bigger show than we had ever done before. I thought of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical”. I applied for the rights which weren’t available yet. So I put my name on a waiting list. To be honest, when they called me to let me know that the rights had become available, I had forgotten about it. When they told me that my production would be the regional debut, I was both nervous and excited.
Jessica Osbourne: Ken approached me and told me that he had optioned the rights and that he was on the waiting list to do the show and asked me if I would assistant direct/produce if they came available. I saw the show years ago when my good friend, Phillip, was in the show on the West End and loved it. I figured if there was ever a musical to do this could be the most fun and entertaining. So I said hells yes!
What has been some highlights in doing this show?
KA: The highlights have been having auditions and seeing all the talent that is here in Albuquerque. The Dolls have been a troupe for so many years and we have worked together on countless productions. That has been wonderful and we are like a family, BUT getting to meet new talent is very exciting as well!
JO: Sort of how things have come together really. When we found out we had dates, I found out that my friend, Phillip, was moving to the USA to be with his now husband and that he would be looking for a project. We were honored when he said yes to playing Bernadette and so excited. It was so exciting to see so much talent come out of the woodwork in Albuquerque to audition. But I think one of the most exciting things was having a bus donated to us so that we can move around Albuquerque to sell tickets and spread the word! So keep an eye out for us!
There are a lot of die hard fans when it comes to the movie. What will the musical offer that the movie doesn’t?
KA: The main difference between the movie and the musical is the addition of The Divas. They are like the Greek Chorus of the show and they get to sing many exciting songs. It is also wonderful to see all the songs that are in a movie tell a story. The musical uses these songs to express the actors feelings. The writers have done a wonderful job of incorporating these songs into the storyline.
JO: Live singing and music! There is nothing quite like it. Also experiencing their journey whilst experiencing glitter and your favorite hit songs is an experience like no other.
Now The Dolls are known for their acting chops, but for the first time, with this show, you’ll be performing with a live orchestra. How does that feel and what others first have you experienced with this show?
KA: It is so exciting to have a live orchestra. This is a definite first! We have a musical director, Nathaniel Robert Flake, and he is amazing. He has made us all feel so at ease with this transition! The Dolls are also known for all our amazing costumes. The costumes in this show are going to be even more amazing (if you can believe that). We have had original costumes made before, but this is the first show where every single costume has been made specifically for this show. Joe Moncada is our costume designer and I don’t know how he is doing it, but he is making every single frock and headdress. Everything is being adorned. I think this show has more sequins and feathers than you’ll find in all of Las Vegas!
JO: I feel like this is the next step for The Dolls. There has always been a musical type quality to their shows, with songs intermingled between the scenes furthering the plot. At first, it was drag, we added live singing during the past year and now full blown live music…it seemed like the natural progression.
What do you want people feeling when they leave the theater after seeing Priscilla the Musical?
KA: The message of Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical is an extremely heartwarming one. I want them to take away that message, but I also want them to know that they have seen a loud and proud musical and be singing and boogieing to the songs from the musical for weeks to come!
JO: The joy of familial love - both born and found. They’ll come out with that feeling of your heart wanting to burst. There’ll be so much love in that room, you could hardly stand it! - Teresa Ewers
Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical is running from July 1-24 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.nhccnm.org/event/dolls-present-priscilla-queen-desert-musical-rental/