- From:The Sunday Telegraph
WHEN Tony Sheldon starred in the musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on Broadway, it was the fulfilment of a dream.To receive a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal of transsexual Bernadette - the role he created in the Australian production and then played in New Zealand, London and Toronto en route to the Great White Way - was cream on the cake.
Although Priscilla closed last year, Sheldon now has a green card and has decided to call New York home.
"It took a lot of thought because I was in my middle 50s but I was welcomed so incredibly warmly by the theatrical community and I've been getting really interesting work over there so I'm very happy," he says.
Early this year he played King Pellinore in Camelot in Houston, which led to the role of a 72-year-old stroke victim in a new play called Art and Science. Then came Horace Vandergelder in Hello Dolly! in Connecticut.
He has also played Leonardo da Vinci in three workshops of a new musical called Ever After based on the Drew Barrymore film.
"It's interesting. I've gone into a different area (playing older roles) but the relief is that I'm not typecast by Priscilla, which was my fear - that everybody would think I was a drag queen," he says.
Sheldon is in Sydney to star in a new Australian production of the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, directed by Roger Hodgman, opening this month.
Based on the popular 1988 film starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is about two conmen, the suave, sophisticated Lawrence Jameson (Sheldon) and the younger, small-time hustler Freddy Benson (Matt Hetherington). Set on the French Riviera, they compete with each other to con $50,000 out of a young heiress.
Sheldon, who loves the show, says he was disappointed not to have been able to throw his hat in the ring when the Production Company staged it in Melbourne in 2009, but he was doing Priscilla in the West End.
"Then fortunately it came around again and they were quite ardent in their pursuit of me, which was very flattering and I was thrilled because I thought, 'what a perfect way to come back'.
"He's a romantic lead and he does comedy and I get to sing and I get to dance and I get to do impersonations of three other characters so it's a wonderful showcase."
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Theatre Royal, October 17- November 17. Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100