Dionne Christian is the NZ Herald’s arts and books editor

Young acting stars set to tackle Priscilla

Lukas Maher, 9, Josh Rose, 11 and Quinn Bevan, 9, have been selected to appear in the upcoming play, Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Photo / Nick Reed
Lukas Maher, 9, Josh Rose, 11 and Quinn Bevan, 9, have been selected to appear in the upcoming play, Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Photo / Nick Reed

Their combined ages are just 29, but already Quinn Bevan, Lukas Maher and Joshua Rose are entertainment industry veterans.

Now they're about to add to their CVs by sharing the small but pivotal role of Benji in the musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Quinn, 9, Lukas, 9, and Joshua, 11, join an international cast and appear in scenes toward the end of the show. Rotating the role, their big moment involves singing a duet with lead character, Tick who's played by Broadway heart-throb Bryan Buscher-West.

Young Quinn Bevan, Lukas Maher and Joshua Rose are entertainment industry veterans.
Young Quinn Bevan, Lukas Maher and Joshua Rose are entertainment industry veterans.

The boys may be able to get some advice from Quinn's older brother, Kieran. Now 18, Kieran played Benji when Priscilla was first performed in New Zealand eight years ago but rather than opting for a stage career, he's now training to be a church minister.

"He was really happy for me when he found out and sung Benji's song to me," says Quinn, a year 5 pupil at Howick Primary School who's no stranger to the stage.

This year, he had a lead role in Silo theatre's Medea and he's recently finished working on the short film Sparrow. Meanwhile his mum, Chris, is one of the chaperones for the youngsters starring in Auckland Theatre Company's Billy Elliot.

Chris says school has been supportive of Quinn's endeavours, seeing it as an opportunity for a different type of learning. She says he went up a reading level while he was working with acclaimed director and acting coach Rachel House on Medea.

Similarly, Lukas and Joshua have spent a fair amount of time on stage or in front of cameras. Lukas has appeared in the opera A Christmas Carol as Tiny Tim and in the Royal New Zealand Ballet's Wizard of Oz as well as singing solo in Evita.

Joshua was 9 months old when he shot his first advertisement and went on to model for the likes of JK Kids' Clothing, Farmers, Baby City and Oh Baby magazine. He's since appeared in musicals with the National Youth Theatre Company and at school, ACG Parnell College.

Their combined ages are just 29.
Their combined ages are just 29.

They're all looking forward to picking up new tips and hints from the rest of the cast and the experience of bringing another blockbuster musical to the Auckland stage.

Based on the hit film, Priscilla follows the fortunes of three drag queens who travel across the Australian desert in a big pink bus for a four-week stint at a resort in Alice Springs. However, organiser Tick has a special reason for wanting to visit; the resort is run by his former wife and he wants to reconnect with son Benji, whom he hasn't seen since the boy was a toddler.

Lunchbox Theatrical Productions James Cundall says in recent years, a number of Kiwi kids have been able to appear in the company's musicals, including Annie and The Sound of Music.

"There are some highly talented young actors out there and we look forward to discovering another star in Benji."

Priscilla Queen of the Desert is at the Civic in Auckland from Friday, October

- NZ Herald

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