I LOVE THE NIGHTLIFE From Priscilla with love

Celebrating the music from Priscilla Queen of The Desert, theatre actor from the show itself, Peter Cumins, invites you to I Love the Nightlife, a “joyous journey through the iconic songs from the movie and stage show,” hitting The Pleasure Garden from Tuesday, February 8, to Sunday, February 13. KWANWOO HAN caught up with Peter Cumins to find out how the actor came to perform in Priscilla, what it was like, and why the magic of the Aussie classic and its music lives on to this day.

You moved to London at seventeen to train at the Arts Educational School. What spurred you into doing this and wanting to perform theatre?

I had grown up taking dance classes and performing in local talent competitions and theatre productions so when it came time to graduate high school I wasn’t sure about how I could pursue that passion. I had wanted to go to WAAPA but at the time they were known for not accepting students directly from secondary school.

My parents decided they wanted to use themselves in London for a few years so I tagged along and moved with them. Once I got to London I started researching different performing arts colleges and decided on ArtsEd. Thousands of students audition for about 60 places in the course and I was lucky enough to be accepted. 

How did you get into performing in Priscilla Queen of The Desert in the first place, and what was it like?

I was living in London and my agent got me an audition for the UK/International Tour. Hundreds of people were seen and I had to go through five rounds of auditions over a four week period. I was lucky enough to be cast in the ensemble, understudying the principal roles of Tick and Bernadette. I toured the UK with the show for 12 months as well as  performing in Amsterdam and Tel Aviv.

I have since performed with the show in Auckland, on the cruise ship the Norwegian Epic and most recently in the Perth production at the Regal theatre. It has been one of the most rewarding shows I’ve ever been a part of and has allowed me to accept myself both onstage and off.

I Love the Nightlife celebrates the music behind Priscilla Queen of The Desert. Why are they so special to you?

The music of Priscilla is such an integral part of the storytelling in both the movie and the stage production. It showcases a lot iconic songs that are a part of the fabric of queer culture. When I was performing the show eight times a week I never got sick of the music, it was so catchy and epic and never failed to put me in a good mood. There are songs that are disco floor fillers such as Finally and touching ballads like True Colours.

Is there a memory that stands out to you when you think about these songs?

In Amsterdam we had a technical issue with the bus and had to stop the show for 15 minutes. During that time the audience took it upon themselves to started an impromptu singalong of songs from the show whilst they waited for us to restart. It was a surreal moment standing backstage and hearing 2,000 people collectively singing songs from our show. 

You’ve performed in Priscilla Queen of The Desert many times before. How does this show compare to those times?

I think it’s difficult to compare them as the stage show is such a huge spectacle of glitzy costumes and set pieces but I have tried to make this Fringe show a real celebration of the music which really is the essence of both the music and the stage show. I want the audience to feel uplifted by the music, sing a long and even dance if they feel the desire.

Who else has been involved in I Love the Nightlife?

I have collaborated with my musical director and great friend Joe Louis Robinson on this latest show. We have worked together on theatre productions here in Perth and he really understands my sound and can easily make my ideas become a reality. We started by narrowing down the song choices based on the film and musical soundtracks and then we created a set list.

From there we worked through each number and chose suitable keys for my voice and made certain cuts or created medleys of several songs. Joe will play keys during the show and will be joined by guitarist Jarrad Van Dort.

With so many hits, what is your favourite song from Priscilla Queen of The Desert?

Wow, that’s a tough one! If I really had to choose I would say It’s Raining Men or MacArthur Park are two of my favourites. They both have such an epic sound with full out diva vocals and I never tire of listening to them.

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