Unicorn bring ‘Priscilla’ to KC audiences

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Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical

Book by Stephan Elliott & Allan Scott
Based on the Latent Image/Specific Films Motion Picture
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

Co-Directed by Cynthia Levin & Missy Koonce
Musical Direction by Angie Benson

Sponsored by Theater League, Hall Family Foundation, Mollie Hale Carter,

Linda & Bill Kornitzer, and The Breidenthal-Snyder Foundation

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical is a journey of self-discovery and the road trip of a lifetime that will have you dancing in the theatre! Based on the cult film, Priscilla is the heartwarming adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love, family and the best of drag. Featuring Ron Megee with dancefloor favorites from Cyndi Lauper, Donna Summer and more!


Critics have praised Priscilla as: “A rollicking crowd-pleaser in sequins!” — Steven Suskin (Variety) and “A feel-good show with a big joyous heart!” — Elisabeth Vincentelli (New York Post). In Time Out Chicago, Alex Huntsberger hailed Priscilla as “a musical that loudly and proudly celebrates gay culture!”

Directed by Cynthia Levin and Missy Koonce, the musical features Ron Megee as Bernadette; Francisco Javier Villegas as Tick/Mitzi; Dashawn Young as Adam/Felicia; Marc Liby as Bob; Damron Russel Armstrong as Miss Understanding/Jimmy; Colleen Grate, Shon Ruffin and Lexi Poindexter as The Divas; Vanessa Severo as Cynthia; Laura Jacobs as Marion; Thomas Delgado, Vincent Wagner and Molliann McCulley as the Ensemble; and Aiden DeLaHunt-Villegas as Benji.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical is on Unicorn Theatre’s Levin Stage located at 3828 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111. The show runsMay 31st – June 25th, 2017. Previews are May 31st, June 1st and 2nd. Opening Night is June 3rd. Featured Friday pre-show events are scheduled forJune 9th and 16th. Talk back performances, where patrons are encouraged to stay after the show and discuss the play with the actors and director, are scheduled for June 6th, 11th and 18th.

Performances run Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. If you are unable to afford a ticket, you may Pay What U Can at performances on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, because we believe art is for everyone.

Tickets are now on sale. Call 816-531-PLAY (7529) EXT. 10, go online at www.UnicornTheatre.org or buy in person at the box office located at 3828 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111. Special discounts are available for seniors (65+), students, and patrons under age 30.

About the Director, Cast, Band and Creative Team:

Cynthia Levin (PRODUCING ARTISTIC DIRECTOR/CO-DIRECTOR) has been working with the Unicorn for 38 seasons as the Producing Artistic Director. Over the years she has served as a director, actor, designer or producer for over 300 productions.  At the Unicorn, she recently directed Eclipsed, Hand to God, Heathers: The Musical (along with Missy Koonce), The Oldest Boy, Women Playing Hamlet (world premiere), Bad Jews, Grounded, Venus in Fur, My Name is Asher Lev, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Soul Collector (world premiere), Hungry (world premiere), Red, Two Jews Walk Into A War…, Distracted, Green Whales (world premiere), Miss Witherspoon, My First Time, The Clean House, Mauritius, 9 Parts of Desire, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Bat Boy: The Musical and additionally the world premieres of rightnextto me (both at the Unicorn and Geva Theatre Center, Rochester, NY), How His Bride Came to Abraham, Light:Damage, Mercy Killing, Innocent Thoughts and Jack and Jill. At Coterie Theatre, she has directed Number the Stars, And Then They Came for Me, Frankenstein, Gatherings in Graveyards (I and II), Valley Song and To Kill A Mockingbird. At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., she directed readings of Occupants, In The Belly Of The Whale, The Friendship Of Her Thighs, The Last Pair Of Earlies, Tigers Be Still and White Devil and Loving Mother for the MFA Playwright’s Workshop. Cynthia is a graduate of Park University which also awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in 2002. She is a founding board member of the National New Play Network, an organization dedicated to the development and production of new works. She has been honored with the Pinnacle Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award. She shares her home with Zia (the beagle), Dodger (the cat) and the spirit of the big red dog, Sylvia.

Missy Koonce (CO-DIRECTOR) has been a bar owner (Bar Natasha), cabaret singer, music producer, theatre producer, actress, choreographer, director, mentor and most recently – “Celezbutante Activist”; needless to say she is always reinventing herself. Missy has worked in virtually every theatrical venue in Kansas City in some capacity; these are a few of her favorite things: co-directing and choreographing Batboy and Heathers (with THE Cynthia Levin), directing The Salvation of Iggy Scrooge, Speech & Debate, [title of show] and Hands on a Hardbody, performing in The Laramie Project, Hedwig, a memorable cameo turn as Claire in Bare and the one woman show Loving Lucy at the Unicorn, playing a psychotic lesbian in Kimberly Akimbo at the M.E.T., her knock out performance as Helene in Pride & Joy…and Mame in Auntie Mame’d produced by Kansas City Artists Against AIDS to benefit AIDS Walk 2010 and 2013, or, at AHT, Beehive and The Dixie Swim Club. Behind the scenes at AHT, you may have caught her directorial offerings: My Way and Duck Hunter Shoots Angel. Missy has directed/choreographed/performed too many shows to mention at the Coterie and Late Night Theatre with her brother, Ron Megee…so we won’t mention them. If you were thinking, “One show a year at the Unicorn is not enough, we need more Missy!”, never fear, she will be directing the opening show of next season, Men On Boats, and it’s not even a musical! October will bring Forrest Attaway’s Chainsaw, the Musical to the Arts Asylum, which she will, once again, direct and choreograph. Missy is also known for performing in, coordinating entertainment AND hosting a myriad of “Not-For-Profit” Kansas City events, as well as finishing her journey as President of the AIDS Service Foundation.

Angie Benson (MUSICAL DIRECTOR/CONDUCTOR/KEYBOARD 1) is so thankful to be a member of the Kansas City theatre community. Her national touring credits include A Chorus Line and Barry Manilow’s Copacabana. Regional credits include Tommy (Stoneham Theatre), Side By Side By Sondheim (Utah Musical Theatre), I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Cleveland Playhouse Square), Altar Boyz (Citizens Bank Theatre), Sound of Music (Northern Stage), and Seussical (West Virginia Public). Favorites in KC: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Coterie), A Christmas Carol (KC Rep), Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd (Musical Theater Heritage), Have You Met Miss Jones, The Addams Family (New Theatre), Ain’t Misbehavin’, Violet (Spinning Tree), First Date, Miss Saigon (Starlight), and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Hands on a Hardbody  (Unicorn). She wishes to express her deepest gratitude to Cynthia, Missy, Tanya, and her family at the Unicorn for being just thather family. This is Angie’s final production in Kansas City, as she, husband Michael, and son Max will be relocating to the Washington, D.C. area in late July. Dedicated (as always) to Dad & Hoff.

Ron Megee (Bernadette) has been known to wear 6-inch heels. Ron has performed at The New Theatre, The Coterie Theatre, The Unicorn, Paul Mesner Puppets, The Kansas City Repertory Theatre, The Folly Theater, The Lyric Opera, Starlight Theatre, The Living Room, and his own place, with Producers Chadwick Brooks and Jessica Dressler, Late Night Theatre. Favorite roles include: The Mystery of Irma Vep at The Rep, A Very Joan Crawford Christmas at The Unicorn, Golden Girls Gone Wilder at Late Night, Shear Madness with (name-dropping moment) Richard Karn at The New Theatre, and in the Daughter of the Regiment at The Lyric Opera. Ron is a Charlotte Street Performing Artist Winner, and received Several Pitch Magazine Best Actor Awards, Vital Voice Theatre of the Year-2015 and 2016, Vital Voice Gay Advocate Winner, most photographed cover model for Camp Magazine and was honored with the Kansas City Magazine Best Actor Award. Oh, he lives with a Dandy in a decaying Victorian Mansion and is a big fan of campy movies of the 1960’s.

Francisco Javier Villegas (Tick/mitzi) was last seen at the Unicorn Theatre in The Ghosts of Lote Bravo and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association. Also at Unicorn Theatre, he was in Hands on a Hardbody, BARE, The Motherf***** with the Hat, and The Soul Collector. Other local credits include: the Coterie Theatre (Madagascar: A Musical Adventure, School House Rock, The Wiz, Red Badge Variations), Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre (Night of the Iguana), and Egads! (Lysistrata Jones). Francisco dedicates his work to his son, Aiden, and would like to remind everyone that you can live out your dreams each and every day no matter how big they are: “Go Fast, Take Chances.”

Dashawn Young (ADAM/FELICIA) is overjoyed to be playing Adam/Felicia in Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical for his debut performance with Unicorn Theatre. Some previous performances: Avenue Q (MTKC-Pro), Curtain Call with Chris Holbrook, Sunset Boulevard (The WhiteTheatre), Dreamgirls (KC Black Rep.),The 25th Annual…Spelling Bee (Summit Theatre Group), West Side Story (Spinning Tree), Hairspray, Leap of Faith (Tent Theatre in Springfield, MO), The King and I(KC MET), Musical Monday/Tuesday (MTH). Dashawn would like to give a special thanks to Cynthia, Missy, Angie and the glorious team at Unicorn Theatre for the opportunity to be a part of the fabulous Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and his friends and family for their overwhelming love and support.TheDashawnYoung@yahoo.com

Marc Liby (BOB) is honored to be back again at the Unicorn Theatre where his past credits include Pastor Greg in Hand to God, J.D. in Hands on a Hardbody and Mr. Slasvick/Brad in By the Way, Meet Vera Stark. He was the Artistic Director of Great Plains Theatre (2006-2012) and has been privileged to work in professional theatre for 20+ years with directing, acting and fight choreographing credits from all over the country. All his love to Ashleyhis best friend, foundation and wife; Sophiahis daughter, who reminds him what it’s all about; and Smokeytheir dog… he’s a really great dog.

Damron Russel Armstrong (MISS UNDERSTANDING/JIMMY), now the Executive Artistic Director of The Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City, hopes you will attend and support his efforts to bring a wealth of theatre mostly never produced in Kansas City. For additional information, check out his progress and provide support at www.brtkc.org. In his free time, audiences may remember his work here at the Unicorn as an actor in How to Use a Knife or as director of An Octoroon. Other Unicorn shows include: The Brothers Size, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, The Exonerated, Bat Boy, Topdog/Underdog, and Ruined. Other KC credits include: KC Rep: Harriet Jacobs; New Theatre: Buddy Holly Story; Living Room: Race; Coterie Theate: The Wiz; Late Night Theatre: Valley of the Dolls; Theatre for Young America: Junie B Jones. Regionally: OSTC, RI: Rent; Palace Theatre, NH: Dreamgirls; Showpalace, FL: The Full Monty. Off Broadway: The Cradle Will Rock(Theatre 1010, NY), Children of Eden (Paper Mill Playhouse, NJ).

Colleen Grate (DIVA/DANCE CAPTAIN) is thrilled to return to the Unicorn where she was previously seen as Heather McNamara in Heathers. Most recently she performed Off Broadway in Louisiana Purchase with Musicals Tonight! She has also been seen at Kansas City Repertory Theatre (Sunday in the Park with George, Little Shop of Horrors, Cabaret, A Christmas Carol), Starlight Theatre (Footloose, Jesus Christ Superstar), New Theatre Restaurant (The Music Man, The Sound of Music), Okoboji Summer Theatre (The Secret Garden, The 1940’s Radio Hour, Enter Laughing), American Heartland Theatre (The Marvelous Wonderettes, Honky Tonk Angels, …Spelling Bee, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play). BFA: Stephens College. www.colleengrate.com

Shon Ruffin (DIVA) is ecstatic to return to Unicorn Theatre. Ruffin received her B.A. in Theater Performance from Kansas State University. Other productions in the area include West Side Story at Spinning Tree Theater, Hairspray at The New Theatre Restaurant, Jitney at the MET, Rosa Parks & The Montgomery Bus Boycott at The Coterie, Heathers at Unicorn Theatre, Dreamgirls in Concert & Stick Fly with the Black Repetory Theater and A Christmas Carol with KC Rep. Special thanks to her wonderful, supportive friends and family! You can also find her singing with her band 2Proud2Beg!

Lexi Poindexter (DIVA) recently finished her second year of college pursuing her BFA in Musical Theatre at the University of Central Missouri. At UCM, she has starred as Matron Mama Morton in Chicago, Lily Craven in The Secret Garden and Mayor Belgoody/Ma Ferd in The Toxic Avenger. Lexi has also recently starred as Fredrika Armfeldt in A Little Night Music at the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival. Lexi is thrilled to be joining the cast and company of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and to make her Unicorn Theatre debut.

Vanessa Severo (CYNTHIA) Venus In Fur, The Motherf***er with the Hat, Green Whales, The Clean House, Bright Ideas (Unicorn Theatre), KC Rep: Vanya, and Sonia, and Masha, and Spike, August: Osage County, Cabaret, A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story, The Musical! Local: Gypsy (Musical Theatre Heritage); Frida…a self portrait, Master of the Universe, Black Bird, Burn This, The Death of Cupid (The Living Room); The Wiz (choreographer), The Miracle Worker, 2005-06 Artist In Residence (The Coterie); Black Pearl Sings, West Side Story (Spinning Tree Theatre); Twelfth Night (Heart of America Shakespeare Festival); Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Absurd Person Singular, Taking Sides, Desdemona (Kansas City Actors Theatre). Recipient of The Fox Fellowship Grant with TCG round 11.

Laura Jacobs (MARION) is overjoyed to return to the Unicorn after appearing as the Girl in Lasso of Truth. A Kansas City-based actor, she has been seen on area stages since 1990. She most recently portrayed Lula in the KC MeltingPot production of Dutchman. Laura’s credits include appearances with the Kansas City Rep, The Living Room, The Fishtank, Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, Starlight, New Theatre, The Barn Players, and The Great River Shakespeare Festival. Her alter-ego, Ivory Wilde, regularly performs with Burlesque Downtown Underground.

Thomas Delgado (ENSEMBLE) is thrilled to be returning to his Unicorn family with Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Last seen here as J.D. in Heathers: The Musical last summer. Past Productions: Le Nozze di Figaro (Figaro), Cabaret (Emcee), Into the Woods (Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf), Mother Divine (Prodigal Son), The Taming of the Shrew (Hortensio), and Miss Saigon (Ensemble). Much love to Cynthia, Missy, Angie, the band, the amazing cast, and the entire Unicorn staff. This one is for Jesse and Jeff. XO

Vincent Wagner (ENSEMBLE) is excited to return to the Unicorn, where he was last seen in the holiday hit Inspecting Carol. A graduate of UMKC’s MFA program, Vince has performed locally with the Coterie (A Charlie Brown Christmas), the Living Room (Equus), and the KC Rep (Romeo & Juliet), among others. His most recent musical role was as the Martian Muhe Ca in an adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles with the alumni company of Fordham College at Lincoln Center. Offstage, Vince is a writer, teacher, public speaking coach, and sous chef for his husband, Ian.

Molliann McCulley (ENSEMBLE) is delighted to be returning to the Unicorn stage having previously appeared in The Freshman (reading), Heathers, and Distracted. A few other favorite credits include: Johnny Baseball (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Late Night with Lewis Black (Williamstown), Sorority House of the Dead (The Coterie), Oklahoma (GPT), Into the Woods (Egads). Film: Lovers Game. Education: Stephens College. Big thanks to Cynthia, Missy, Angie, & the entire Priscillasquad, and of course to her wifey Steph, for all the love and support! www.molliannmcculley.com

Aiden DeLaHunt-Villegas (BENJI) is proud to be making his stage debut next to his dad Francisco Javier Villegas (Tick) in Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Aiden just finished 5th grade and plans to continue playing in orchestra (viola) throughout middle school. He would like to thank everyone at the Unicorn for the opportunity to be on stage and try something new. He also sends a big thanks to his mother Amber and his two younger siblings Kami and Levi. Enjoy the show!

Ahafia Jurkiewicz-Miles (KEYBOARD 2/FIDDLE) is so excited to perform in their first Unicorn Theatre production! A junior at the University of Central Missouri, they are pursuing their Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance. They have been studying piano for 15 years, playing solo works, in chamber groups, and is the current pianist for the UCM Wind Ensemble. Since age 8, they have been acting through the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s summer education programs and Team Shakespeare, and now through the UCM Theater Department. This past spring, they received the Classical Acting Award in the Region 5 Final Round of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for their performance as Biondello in The Taming of the Shrew.

Joe Levens (GUITAR) is happy to be back at the Unicorn! His previous credits here include Heathers, Hands on a Hardbody, and Everyday Rapture. Joe has also performed at many other local theaters including: Starlight, New Theater Restaurant, MTH, Spinning Tree, AHT, and the MET. Joe sends his love to Kat and Vrem. Also, Joe would like to send his love to Matt and Rachel and says he can’t wait for the next extravaganza!

Kevin Payton (BASS) is happy to return to the Unicorn for another summer. He has recently been performing at Starlight, the Unicorn, and the New Theatre Restaurant. You can also catch him in the Michael Beers Band, or with his jazz group at Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse in Olathe. Special thanks to Vicki Vodrey. “I’m going to Disney World!”

Tod Barnard (DRUMS) is ecstatic to be back at the Unicorn since accompanying the stunning ensemble of Grey Gardens. Through the years, Tod’s diverse performance experiences have included: Starlight Theatre, KC Rep, American Heartland Theatre, Musical Theatre Heritage, The Coterie, The New Theatre, Jewish Community Center, Epic Productions, The Kansas City Symphony and Pops, and Worlds of Fun, as well as freelance arranging, teaching, and guest artist stints at area middle and high schools. Moons ago, he spent time on the road with the Broadway Tour of Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby and the final National Tour of Cats.


The band is Angie Benson (conductor/keyboard 1), Ahafia Jurkiewicz-Miles (keyboard 2/fiddle), Joe Levens (guitar), Kevin Payton (bass), and Tod Barnard (drums).

The creative team for Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical is Tanya Brown (stage manager), Gary Mosby (scenic designer), Alex Perry (lighting designer), Taylor Sullivan (assistant lighting designer), David Kiehl (sound designer), Emily Swenson (projections designer), Jon Fulton Adams andWayne Potter (costume designers), Bret Engle (properties designer), Gregory Chafin (technical director), Boni Newberry (dramaturg), Scott Stackhouse (dialect coach), Afton Earp (assistant stage manager), Hannah Rogg Taylor (production assistant), Zach Harris (sound board operator), and Courtney Dozier and Grant Davis (spotlight operators).

About the Playwrights:

 

Stephan Elliott (PLAYWRIGHT) is an Australian film director and screenwriter. His best-known film internationally is The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994). He began his career as an assistant director working in the boom of the Australian film industry of the 1980s. His first two feature films, Frauds and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert were produced by Rebel Penfold-Russell’s Australian production company Latent Image Productions. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was officially selected to screen at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Prix du public as well as an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, among numerous other accolades. His film Easy Virtue, was written with co-writer Sheridan Jobbins, and is based on the Noël Coward play of the same name. It stars Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jessica Biel and Ben Barnes. It was produced by Barnaby Thompson for Ealing Studiosin the UK, and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on 8 September 2008. It has also screened in the Rio Film Festival, Rome Film Festival and London Film Festival to great acclaim. His next film, A Few Best Men starring Xavier Samuel and Olivia Newton-John was released in 2012.

Allan Scott (PLAYWRIGHT) is a Scottish screenwriter and producer, nominated for BAFTA’s Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film and a Genie Award for his 1997 film Regeneration. He has won the Edgar Award (1976) and Writers’ Guild Award (1978). He was born in Elgin, Moray, and educated at Gordonstoun School and McGill University, Montreal, where he obtained a BA in English Literature. He was appointed a Governor of The British Film Institute in 1992 and served that Board for some six years. He is also a former Chairman of The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, thus perhaps the only person ever to chair a trades union and a Stock Exchange company at the same time. He was Executive Producer of the thriller Shallow Grave (1992). He also wrote and produced the BAFTA-nominated film, Regeneration (1997) as well as The Fourth Angel (2001). He has written or co-written more than a dozen films, including The Awakening (with Chris Bryant, 1980) and five films directed by Nicolas Roeg. Scott was co-writer and script consultant on the Norwegian film Kon-Tiki (2012) which was nominated for an Oscar in 2013 in the foreign language category.

About Unicorn Theatre

Founded in 1974, Unicorn Theatre enhances Kansas City by developing and producing professional, provocative new plays. We create opportunities for the advancement of emerging and established actors, directors, playwrights, designers, technicians and administrative staff. Unicorn Theatre is under the artistic and executive leadership of Producing Artistic Director Cynthia Levin, who joined the company in 1979. From a newly expanded home in the Midtown neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, the Unicorn houses two stages—The Levin Stage (formerly The Main Stage) and The Jerome Stage (added in 2008). A fully professional not-for-profit theatre, the theatre operates under agreement with Actor’s Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. The Unicorn is a founding member of the National New Play Network, an alliance of not-for-profit professional theatres that champions the development, production and continued life of new plays for the American theatre; and is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national service organization for the not-for-profit professional theatre.  Financial assistance for this theatre has been provided by The National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; corporate and foundation gifts; and the generous individuals throughout the community we serve.

Unicorn Theatre / 3828 Main Street / Kansas City, MO 64111 




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