Bryan West was part of the original production on Broadway of Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical and when offered the chance to go on tour in one of the lead roles, jumped at the chance to move up from understudy. Touring isn't something new for him - he's toured with Wicked and he was in Houston with a tour of Hairspray before - and while it isn't something he'd want to do all the time, it's a good way to get to see places across the country.
And the actor born in New Orleans who grew up in Baltimore where he attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, does have Texas ties. Both his cousins ("They're like my sisters") went to Baylor.
His course was set at an early age, albeit in a different kind of music than the showtunes he performs now. "I got a job when I was 16 in Nashville. That was at Opryland for that summer." And he says he worked with amazing performers, learning a lot.
He's still performing in front of audiences, but now as Adam/Felicia in Priscilla -a road show for the modern ages set to the pop music in which two drag queens and a transexual board a battered old bus for a journey through the Australian Outback. Their goals: love and friendship. The musical is said to be the most successful one ever produced in Australia before coming to Broadway with Bette Midler as its producer.
"My character is definitely sassy. He's a smart aleck. He always goes for those one liners," West says. "He has the most to learn out of the three. He thinks he's invincible and he's obsessed Madonna. His dream is to climb Ayers Rock in Australia."
The show's success depends in no small part on its music with songs that include It's Raining Men," "Finally," and "I Will Survive,", West acknowledges. "Everyone can enjoy the songs they know and the costumes (winner of the 2011 Tony Award in that category) and the sets are so amazing the audience just gets swept up in the fantasy."
But the story has its own strengths, he says.
"I think that even though the story is kind of outrageous, there's still a lot of humanity. It's about a father going to meet his son for the first time. It's a road trip. It brings a lot of humor and a lot of humanity."
Priscilla runs September 29 through October 12 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information visit tuts.com or call 713-558-8887.
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