He extensively researched his character in the weeks leading up to him appearing as drag queen, Miss Understanding, in this very Australian, fun musical. This research included spending several weeks donning at least part of his costume around his new Melbourne home.
“I have been washing the dishes and vacuuming in high heels,” he explained with a laugh.
He has also been watching a number of live drag shows and movies. At the same time playing a drag queen is nothing new for Appelqvist. He estimates by the time his role in Priscilla finishes he will have spent around two and a half years in drag. He’s just finished touring in the Australian premiere production of “Kinky Boots.”
“I played an Angel, a bubbly thing who was just a hoot,” Appelqvist said. “However Miss Understanding is very different to an Angel. A drag queen from Sydney, Miss Understanding knows what she is doing, she is a bit crazy and she’s sassy. She also doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone.”
Based on the Oscar-winning Australian film of the same name, “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” is the story of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus bound for Alice Springs to put on the show of a lifetime.
This new stage production, which celebrates the 10th anniversary of the original show, features more than 500 costumes, 200 headdresses and a non-stop hit parade of dance-floor classics including “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” “I Love the Nightlife,” “Finally” and Appelqvist’s show stopping number “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”
Originally from Canberra, Appelqvist moved to Melbourne to study at the Victorian College of the Arts. He had no hesitation in staying in Melbourne once he finished his course in 2015.
“I fell in love with Melbourne and have a strong relationship with the city. It’s part of my identity,” he said. “Melbourne also has a very strong vibrant arts scene ensuring there are lots of opportunities here.”
Appelqvist made his professional debut in The Production Company’s “West Side Story”, played Ziegfeld Tenor in “Funny Girl” and understudied the leading role in “Ghost The Musical.” Since returning to Melbourne after touring with “Kinky Boots” he has been busy settling into his new apartment in South Yarra. He and his partner both love the area. He cites Prahran Market as one of his "should visit" recommendations for any Melbourne visitor.
“There’s a great atmosphere and it is an authentic local experience,” he said.
He’s also a great fan of the Tan which circumnavigates the Royal Botanic Gardens.
“It’s great to run around or take the dog for a walk,” he explained.
Applelquist also expects he may be spending time with fellow cast members revisiting the many bars and restaurants around the Regent Theatre—another very Melbourne experience for locals and visitors alike.