There’s an image on line that’s gone viral of a guy dressed as a cupcake laughing with Joan
Rivers. That happens to be Portage & Main’s own Thom Allison who’s making his Broadway debut in Priscilla Queen of the Desert. The cupcake is one of many costumes designed for the show by Oscar winning designers Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner.
Thom is…well, Thom is one of those guys: ridiculously good looking, incredibly talented, with a killer smile and great sense of humour. You’d almost want to hate him except he’s also just so nice and he has this amazing ability to immediately put you at ease.
So how was meeting Joan Rivers? “Pretty sweet, actually,” says Thom, pun intended. “It was such a fun day. And Joan, I call her Joan, no big deal, whatever, was so warm and funny.”
From the audience, I’ve admired Thom for a long time. He’s done shows with my husband and my sister-in-law, so I’ve also had the pleasure to get to know him along the way. To me, he’s one of our country’s best musical theatre performers. But now that he’s in New York, I wanted to ask about his transition.
What’s the best thing about being in New York?
“Being in New York! Okay, more specifically, the variety of everything. And you can basically get anything you want, whenever you want it, and have it delivered.”
How about the worst? “People don’t move out of the way at subway doors. Aaaarrggghhh!”
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
“Finding the right thing to wear for opening night. Other than that, it’s been pretty good. New Yorkers are actually really friendly and helpful.”
Aside from Joan, you’ve had a bunch of celebs visiting backstage. Any favourites? “Unfortunately, the ensemble hasn’t really been introduced to many of them. It’s usually the principles they meet. So far, we’ve really only met Kathie Lee Gifford and she was very nice – loved the show. But she did push me down and say I looked fat in my finale costume . . . Kidding, she didn’t push me down.”
The show is about 3 Drag Queens who head off on a road trip across the Australian outback in a multi-coloured RV called Priscilla. On their adventures, we get some great songs, a lot of laughs as well as some very poignant moments. For some, it’s easy to write Priscilla off as a bit of gay fluff. Lead actor Tony Sheldon views it quite differently. Having created the role of Bernadette in Australia, London’s West End and Toronto before heading to Broadway, he’s certainly had time to think about it. “It’s a show about acceptance. It’s a place where a kid from the suburbs can come and see that you don’t have to follow the norm to belong. It’s not about being gay, it’s about knowing there’s a place for everyone.”
He gets more serious when he adds “Our leads have big hearts and have huge capacities for love and forgiveness. Does that not count for anything? I think it all depends on what one chooses to see – the needle or the haystack.”
Whether as a cupcake or just as himself, Broadway’s got a big treat in our Thom. If you’re in town, drop by Priscilla and say hi. You never know, he might even teach you how he does all that amazing choreo in heels…