It took Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - the Musical and the role of Miss Understanding to elevate an established cabaret performer from Sydney's drag scene to a whole new level and a much wider audience. Now, not content with currently playing the role of Edna Turnblad in Hairspray the Musical eight shows a week, the man known throughout the industry as the busiest, has agreed/decided/been co-erced to bring Liza (On an E) to Melbourne audiences.
To the opening sounds of a 7-piece band, an apparition appears on stage. She sounds a lot like Liza. She moves somewhat like Liza. There's the Liza laugh. It's really only when those fuller thighs emerge after a wardrobe malfunction, that give away the fact that maybe it's not really Liza.
Trevor, however, has worked long & hard to capture, and grossly exaggerate, the mannerisms and speech patterns of a showbusiness legend. The local references and family jokes went down a treat to the capacity opening night throng of adoring fans. Many of the jokes are howlingly funny, some a little cruel (Lorna Luft: when she puts on a show, nobody comes). But at all times the crowd is in the palm of the hand of the lady centrestage, as Trevor moves effortlessly evoking not just Liza, but also Judy Garland (at times).
The songs run the gamut of what any decent fan could expect from a Liza concert with many Kander & Ebb standards that were often written for her - such as Liza with a Z and Ring them Bells. The blockbuster showstoppers are all there including Some People, Maybe This Time, Cabaret and of course New York, New York.
However there are some surprising (and wonderful moments) that are showstoppers in their own right - Charles Aznavour's hauntingly beautiful What Makes a Man a Man? is a highlight early in the night.
Also deliciously naughty are the changed lyrics for Be Our Guest (David Gest), originally from Disney's Beauty & the Beast.
Trevor Ashley and co-writer/director Dean Bryant have produced a highly entertaining and captivating performance, that is immaculately performed by Ashley.
Daniel Edmunds does a great job as Music Director.
Liza (On an E) is filled with many pleasant surprises and even includes a special guest. And Trevor Ashley is one amazing performer!
LIZA (ON AN E)
Venue: The HI-FI Bar and Ballroom | 125 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Dates/Times: Sunday, January 23 & 30 and Sunday Feb 6 at 8pm
Bookings: lizaonane.com.au or 1300THEHIFI (1300 843 4434)