by Genea L. Webb
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Nik Alexzander is excited to be returning to Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center to perform in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”
“I performed in ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’ at the Benedum Center,” Alexzander said. “I was a part of the ensemble and I understudied and the last night I was there I went on as the character and I was so excited.”
This time around, Alexzander plans on exciting the audience with his beautiful voice and dance moves as he portrays Miss Understanding in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” when the musical makes it way to Pittsburgh’s Cultural District as part of the PNC Broadway Across America Series from March 5-10.
“Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” tells the uplifting tale of three friends who board a battered old bus searching for love and friendship in the Australian Outback.
Drag queen Mitzi Mitosis—whose real name is Anthony Tick Belrose—is performing at a club when his wife, Marion, whom he has been separated from for several years due to his homosexuality, calls in a favor. She reveals that she needs an act for a few weeks at her business in faraway Alice Springs.
Tick is reluctant but agrees after Marion tells him that the couple’s eight-year-old son wants to meet him. Once Tick accepts the gig he asks two of his friends—Felicia and Bernadette—to join him. To make the journey, the trio purchases a budget van that they nickname Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
The show premiered October 2006 at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney, Australia and ended its run there in September of 2007. “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” opened on Broadway in March of 2011 and won the Tony Award for best costumes that year. It ended its Broadway run in June 2012 after 23 previews and 526 performances.
“The three friends are on a journey and are in three different places in their lives,” explained Alexzander who has performed in “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “The Wiz,” “Hairspray” and “Dreamgirls.” “We are all the same in this world; we all belong in this world. I would love for people to realize that we are all one.”
Alexzander plans on proving that point by taking the audience on a fun-filled trip with well-known music and beautiful costumes.
“Playing my character is so much fun!” said Alexzander who is making his equity debut in the show. “She interacts with the audience and I think she sets the tone for the show.”
His big number is Tina Turner’s hit “What’s Love Got to Do With it?”
“The music will take the audience back to a time when they were young,” said Alexzander who was born in Brooklyn.
Alexzander, who started his singing career in church, said he thought about what was important to Miss Understanding to prepare himself for the role.
“Anytime I do a role, I immediately think about what’s important to the character. With any drag queen, their faces and their bodies are all important because they are always trying to maintain a perfect face,” Alexzander said. “Everything about a drag queen is overly dramatic; everything is heightened from their makeup to the way they move.”
Alexzander believes African- Americans would benefit from seeing “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”
“We as Blacks are a minority and in the show there are drag queens that are a minority in the world. African-Americans can relate to the show because they can relate to being different in society and being strong,” Alexzander said. “At the end of this show you feel more comfortable with drag because you fall in love with the characters and you want the queens to be successful in life.”
(To purchase tickets to “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” visit http://www.trustarts.org or call (412) 456-4800.)