Business Profile: The Dolls

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Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
(Russell Maynor)
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The Dolls are launching on their biggest venture yet –
Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical based on the 1994 smash hit movie. It’s a journey of three drag queens who are searching for love and the meaning of life. They hop aboard a battered old bus named “Priscilla” and embark on a journey to fabulousness. This is the first regional production of this musical. Which means that it is the first time this show has been produced outside of Broadway and the Broadway touring company in the United States! And who better to deliver us this mad-cap musical than The Dolls!!!

When did The Dolls first start?

This is actually our 20th anniversary! Our first year was spent as party girls. We would go out to all the clubs in resplendent drag. We were greatly inspired by the movie“
Priscilla Queen of the Desert. So we had magnificent headdresses and our eyes were glittered for days. Priscilla really did change the world of drag.

So Priscilla was a great influence for The Dolls?

Most definitely! My partner, Matthew Bubb (aka the late great Geneva Convention) and I had moved from Albuquerque to New York City out of high school. We lived there for 10 years but wanted to move back to Albuquerque to be with our family. We were thinking of ways to make Albuquerque more exciting. We always loved theater but after watching the movie
Priscilla we came up with the idea of starting a drag theater troupe. Matt and I were always acting out old movies in our living room (Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve, Mildred Pierce) and we were always fighting over who got to be the female lead. Female roles are just so much more dramatic … and the gowns! So a drag theater troupe was definitely the answer. Priscilla did influence us in our makeup and costumes. We would glitter our eyebrows (such an easy way to cover them) and my goodness does that make an eye pop. So that became our signature look!

Why did you choose Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical?

I was looking for something that would take The Dolls to the next level. We’ve become well known in this city for writing all of our plays. Writing is my passion! We’ve done a handful of plays based on original works such as
Auntie Mame and The Bad Seed but I wanted to do something on a massive scale that’s never been done in Albuquerque. Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical immediately came to mind. To me it was kismet to do the musical production that so greatly influenced us to start The Dolls in the first place. But the rights weren’t available yet. So I put my name on a waiting list. And to be honest, I completely forgot about it. And in October of last year, I received a call that the rights were going to be available in June 2016. So I bought the rights and immediately panicked. I mean, we had never done a musical before. Drag queens lip-sync! The Dolls are not known for their singing and dancing talents!

How did you approach this new journey?

That’s just it! A new journey … that is what
Priscilla is all about! And that’s exactly what I was looking for: something that was different from anything The Dolls had ever done before. Something that would take us to the next level. So instead of being frightened, I became excited. Now, to our credit, we have incorporated live singing in our last few productions. But a full blown musical is a different story. So we held auditions and I was amazed at all the talent that came out of the woodwork to audition! That has been so exciting. So we have a cast with a bunch of new players! And I am so proud of The Dolls that are in this production. They are singing their hearts out and they are amazingly good!

So what can we expect from Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical?

Fringe, feathers and fabulousness! And did I mention sequins? A whole lot of sequins! And you will see them all spinning to a hit parade of dancefloor music that will have our audience dancing in the aisles. Not to mention a dazzling array of outrageous costumes! Joe Moncada (our costume designer) has put his heart and soul into these costumes. We are also very excited to have Phillip Arran as our Bernadette. Phillip is from England and was an original West End cast member of the musical as well as Bernadette’s understudy. So he is now getting to play Bernadette in Albuquerque! We also have the incredible Chris Wright-Garcia as Tick and the amazing Nicholas Handley as our Adam. And Santa Fe’s own Bella Gigante is one of our Divas! But what sells this musical for me is its heart. As Jessica Osbourne (my co-director) so aptly put it, “It’s about the joy of familial love—both born and found. The audience will come out with that feeling of your heart wanting to burst. There’ll be so much love in that room, you can hardly stand it!” This is what I was searching for. This is what I have found. And I couldn’t be more pleased! And I like to think that my dear Geneva Convention is looking down on all of this with sequins in her eyes!!!

Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical is playing July 1-20 at the glorious National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Albuquerque Journal Theatre. Tickets are $25, call 505-724-4771 or go to!

The Dolls

The Dolls

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