Opera House hosts world premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under

Contestants from "RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under" at its world premiere, Sydney Opera House, Friday, 30 April, 2021. Photo: Stan./Facebook.

By PETER HACKNEY

The Sydney Opera House became the temporary centre of the drag world last night as the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under joined celebrities on the blue carpet for the world premiere of the much anticipated production.  

Singer and television presenter David Campbell hosted the event, which featured a screening of the first episode (minus the ending) ahead of the program’s television debut on Stan at 4pm today.

Campbell introduced the drag queens before the screening, with Sydney’s contestants drawing huge applause.

As first reported exclusively by the Sentinel’s Travis de Jonk in February, Sydney’s own Etcetera Etcetera, Coco Jumbo and Maxi Shield are among the ten contestants from across Australia and New Zealand to take part in the production.

While rumoured guests RuPaul and Michelle Visage (who co-host the series with Australian comedian Rhys Nicholson) and superstar guest judges Kylie and Dannii Minogue (who will appear in episode two) were not present last night, the event’s celebrity suit was still strong. 

Attendees included international pop star Rita Ora; Oscar winning director, actor and first episode guest judge Taika Waititi; singers Samantha Jade and Rob Mills; and actors Claudia Karvan and Ryan Corr.

Stars arrive at the RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under world premiere at the Sydney Opera House, Friday, 30 April, 2021. Video: KobiThatcher/YouTube.

Perhaps surprisingly, drag performer, TV personality and singer Courtney Act – alumna of Australian Idol, RuPaul’s Drag Race (US), Celebrity Big Brother (UK) and Dancing with the Stars (Australia) – was also in attendance. 

Courtney has spoken on several occasions about perceived animosity from RuPaul and Michelle Visage, and was notably absent from the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars spin-off series, despite being one of the most famous queens to appear in the Drag Race franchise.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under was initially announced as RuPaul’s Drag Race Australia in August 2019 and was to be an Australian-only version – but production was moved to Auckland due to Covid-19 and the show’s title amended to RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, with New Zealand contestants also included.

Official trailer for RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under. Video: Stan Australia/YouTube.

The first episode screens exclusively in Australia at 4pm today (Saturday, 1 May) on Stan.

The show will also screen internationally on TVNZ 2 in New Zealand, BBC iPlayer in the United Kingdom and on WOW Presents Plus in the USA and elsewhere. 

The Sentinel Speakeasy – the official podcast of the Sydney Sentinel – will feature an exclusive interview with several RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under contestants in the coming weeks.

Peter Hackney is the editor-in-chief of the Sydney Sentinel.