In­ter­na­tional drag su­per­star Trevor Ash­ley per­forms all the songs you wish you’d heard Liza Minelli sing in this hi­lar­i­ous trib­ute to his idol

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SHOWS - SALLY COATES

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).

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