Māori designers dress Priscilla

By Taroi Black, Te Kāea
  • Auckland

Two Māori designers have taken the opportunity to be part of the famous hit musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert which premiered in Auckland last night. Priscilla is adapted from the 1991 film and follows drag queens Tick and Adam, and their transgender friend Bernadette, as they traverse Australia in a bus - named Priscilla – on their way to Alice Springs.

Over 471 costumes, 45 wigs and 120 shoes- all worn to dazzle Auckland with the hit musical Priscilla.

The day after the premiere, Te Kāea met with local designers Campbell Stodart and Anthony Hotere, both of Māori descent, who were lucky enough to be part of operations.

“I think the story is quite diverse because it kind of ticks a lot of boxes,” says Stodart, “There's the father-son relationship. There's the friendship between the drag queens and the transsexuals.  There's the humor and the madness and the craziness of it all, as well and the iconic Australian reference, which I think for Kiwis is really important.”

“I think I've grown with the story as well,” says Hotere, “I think it's important understanding the roles of each of the characters and seeing in the last 20 years how the scene has changed, how the community has changed, how the world has changed and these characters has influenced a part of that.”

With a talented cast carrying out a high-energy of performances and raw emotion, Stodart believes it was important to make the costumes outrageous and fun.

“We like to source our people who have the skills and the personality and the ability and the availability to jump on board and contribute and kind of morph together with an international touring company.”

Their wardrobe team consists of ten local New Zealanders and another two from the UK. But what makes Stodart and Hotere unique is their background experience to drag.

“I would be Mitzi in the middle because, you know, for me the drag that I do personally is not living my life as a drag queen, it's more just the performance side and I also would be in that age-group as well.”

The Civic Theatre will hold two performance this Thursday and Friday.