DEAR LIZA, IT’S TREVOR
International drag superstar Trevor Ashley performs all the songs you wish you’d heard Liza Minelli sing in this hilarious tribute to his idol
resh out of rehab, Liza’s Back (is broken) hits Queensland Performing Arts Centre this week for six nights only.
The legendary starlet has been hilariously channelled by writer, director and performer Trevor Ashley, who contrarily, is fresh out of the Sydney Opera House.
Ashley’s latest show is a follow up to his 2011 show Liza (on an E), which parodied her 2009 Australian tour.
“I don’t know how I worked it out really, I just had this odd uncanny knack to sound exactly like her,” he says.
“In the past couple of years I’ve been so many places, so I thought it’d be good to do a follow-up show.
“It’s more about Liza on Broadway and what shows she might have done had she performed on Broadway more. It’s part fantasy, part reality.”
Despite having the same central character, Ashley says the shows are completely different and ponders the outcomes had Liza been involved in The Sound of Music or Sunset Boulevard.
“We took notes of shows we thought Liza would be appalling in, saying ‘Oh no, it would never work if she played this role’ and then we made a list of ‘Wouldn’t she be great in…’,” he explains.
“For example she’s really not Maria in the sound of music, it’s a long way from what she does. So of course she does the Sound of Music and has completely rewritten the show to suit her own needs and comes up with a bunch of solutions to make it better. For example, she cuts all the kids out. But Sunset Boulevard, that’s one role where I thought ‘God, had Liza wanted to do it she would have been amazing as Norma Desmond’.”
What is it about this particular showbiz queen that earned Ashley’s devotion?
“I think her strength is what inspires me the most – her strength and what she’s gone through is quite extraordinary,” Ashley says.
“She’s probably the last of the great Hollywood family with her mother being Judy Garland. It’s a big legacy that Judy left her and how public and damaged Judy was. I think Liza’s overcome a whole lot of things and to be able to still be performing now is incredible, she’s stopping now, she’s gotten old. She’s an old dancer whose legs have gone.”
Emulating an idol could be daunting, but Ashley keeps any nerves well hidden.
“I sort of was nervous, sort of wasn’t,” he says.
“I always approach my shows with humour and love. I love Liza and what she does.
“I’m a huge fan and I just wanted it to work as a show, I just wanted the show to be good. That’s more daunting than doing a good impersonation.”
Considering himself more of a cabaret performer than a drag queen, Ashley says, aside from playing women, he’s constantly dabbling with abrupt moments of reflection.
“Mainly I am women, it’s a running theme,” he laughs.
“I generally use a lot of humour but some big moments of pathos where suddenly I’ll pull the rug out from under you and you had no idea it was coming.
“I guess those are the type of things that run through all my shows. I like being able to make them laugh one minute and make them cry the next – that’s a great thing about cabaret.”
Ashley wasn’t performing cabaret the last two times he hit QPAC, so audiences will be kept on their toes.
“Last time I was there it was for Les Miserables and I also directed Heathers: The Musical,” he says.
“It’s nice to come back with one of my own shows.” Liza’s Back (is broken), January 17 – 22, QPAC Theatre
Trevor Ashley in costume as Liza Minelli for his latest show Liza's Back (is broken).