From cocktails to fishnets for Priscilla

When Zach Caskey isn’t busy pouring some of the best cocktails in town, you’ll find him rehearsing for Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Taranaki Community News caught up with him to find out how he’s enjoying his new gig.

Hi Zach! We hear this is your first time onstage for New Plymouth Operatic Society. How’s the experience going so far?
Hey! Yes, first time with NPOS altogether! So far so good. Everybody has been really welcoming and supportive, and I feel like I’m part of the family now.

It was all a little nerve wracking to begin with but after about the second rehearsal I was fine. Being a bit of an introvert it’s been a really good experience and I feel like I’m discovering a new side to myself.

I’m so glad I’m a part of something like this and can now laugh at the fact that I was actually scared in the beginning.

Zach is one of many men who have the pleasure of learning to walk in heels for the show

What are you doing in the show, and do you get to wear a lot of cool costumes? 
I’m part of the on-stage ensemble. I sing and dance in a few numbers. And yes I have a few cool costumes.

The most outrageous would be the ‘Gumbie’ costume. Gigantic shoes attached to pink Lycra pants with what’s basically a floral swim suit topped with an enormous head piece of flowers.

I’m also going drag for one number. That’s another first for me. High heels and fishnets. And of course, I’m a barman in another scene. So that’s all pretty fun.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert opens in New Plymouth on June 20

We also hear you are a bit of a hospo star when you’re not on stage?Hospo has become life for me. It’s such a challenging industry, but also very rewarding. I’ve managed a few restaurants up north, when I did a two year stint up there. I’ve been back in Taranaki for nearly a year. 

I’m currently lucky enough to be working at Itch Wine Bar. Its such an amazing space. We have a great wine offering from around the world, possibly the best spirit selection in town, great classic cocktails and Fromage and Chartuterie. Booze and cheese. Whats not to love?

Zach, hard at work pouring cocktails

With all that’s going on its been a great opportunity to up skill and grow my knowledge in those areas. My diva of a boss Jess (she’s actually a diva in Priscilla) is a walking encyclopedia for all that, so she’s been an amazing teacher.

There’s a chance you’ll also see me working at a few other spots around the West End Precinct occasionally. The highlight of hospo is always going to be the customers. They are the best (sometimes worst) part of the job. Everybody has stories, and they are usually all bloody brilliant.

If Priscilla Queen of the Desert was a cocktail, what would it be?
It would have to be pink and outrageous. So I’m thinking a strawberry mojito with chambord, and topped with champas. Throw some strawberries on top and bang in a pink cocktail umbrella. Dust it with some edible glitter. 

You are having a cocktail party and you can invite any three people from history. Who do you invite and what drinks do you make each of them? 
Amy Winehouse. Amy gets a jug of Long Island iced tea… and probably hold the coke.

Frida Kahlo. That’s easy. Margarita.

And I’m going with a living person for the last one. Dame Judi Dench. I feel like I would make her a gin sour. 

If you were a drag queen, what would your name be?
PapReeka 

What’s been the most challenging part of Priscilla so far, and what’s been the best?
I think the most challenging thing was the audition. It took a lot of encouragement from friends to actually go, then when I got there I nearly chickened out. The best part was realising I’ve actually got this. I can do it. I’m good enough.

What’s your fav song of the Priscilla show?
That’s a tough one. It was We Belong. But, as we rehearse more I have changed my mind and it’s now Dont Leave Me This Way. Really fun song!

Why should people come along to Priscilla?
It is just too damn fabulous not to come and see! It’s such a high energy show with so much going on. Crazy costumes, amazing songs and dancing. You will definitely leave with a smile on your face. If you haven’t got your tickets yet – hurry up! Don’t miss the bus!