Headlining the Twisted Broadway star-studded line-up and lineage of high-profile hosts are Trevor Ashley and Erika Heynatz. A music theatre veteran and drag cabaret superstar, Trevor Ashley is no stranger to gender-bending with leading (female) roles including Edna Turnbald in Hairspray and Natalie Portly in pantomime Fat Swan. Ashley has returned to Melbourne to host Twisted Broadway from critically acclaimed cabaret seasons on Broadway and the West End, and will be seen by Melbourne audiences soon in the upcoming Little Orphan trAshley.

Trevor Ashley
Trevor, for the benefit of readers who know little about you, how did you first begin a career on stage?
I started out at the Johnny Young Talent School and at Shopfront Theatre in Sydney. I was four years old, and I had nagged at my parents – who knew nothing about show business – to take me somewhere I could sing and act. I have never known wanting to do anything else. 

A little bio, a little reflection?
I was at Shopfront for many years – I think twelve in total. It was the place I learnt all aspects of theatre from acting, writing, lighting, sound and I even spent every Saturday for six months in their editing suite when I was 11 years old, creating a short film. When I was 15, I produced my first show. It was called Ufomistic and it was a comedy cabaret. I hired the theatre, convinced friends to be in it, others to choreograph and even made my poor music teachers write charts for the band. It was the one thing I think that set me up for what the industry was like. We even made a profit of $300. 

Your earliest gender bender highlight?
I used to wear Mum's old petticoats as a dress and do a one man Sound of Music. My Nan loved it. 

Thank heavens for “the dress up box” and your earliest on stage gender bender moment?
I wrote a show called Dressing Room Drags for me and my friend Chris to star in at Shopfront. It was in revue format, and I played Carlotta Carefree and he was Mary-Ann-Libra-Fleur. I was ugly as shit, and have the photos to prove it. 

Why does gender bending matter?
It's been important, I think, for the satirical and political nature of theatre. Drag and cross-gender casting can often be used to comment on a work (of art), or a subject without having to say anything verbally. It's also often very funny. 

What does gender bending make us mindful of, alert to?
I just think that it's used to create a moment, to highlight a person's talent often, and to remind us that life is very, very funny. 

Trevor, I am thinking now about the ways songs – both pop and musical theatre songs – are re-imagined for newer, younger, wider audiences – arguably a TV program like Glee has done wonders for bringing musical theatre and queer culture into homes around the world?
I think the great thing about the mainstreaming of queer culture is the support it gives to young people. When I was a closeted teenager, I only wish we had a program like Glee to tell me that it was all ok. 

Tell me about the details of adaptation to gender bending roles from your perspective?
For me, it really depends on the subject and what it's being used for. If it's something like a flat out impersonation, I study the performer and capture their mannerisms. In this years' TB, I'll be doing a faithful rendition of a role that I would never be able to play. Though would love to.

Kate Macdonald and TheBengeGroup present
Twisted Broadway

Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse
8pm Monday 22 July
Tickets $35 – 75

NIDA, Parade Theatre
8pm Monday 19 August
Tickets $45 – 65

Image credit –
Top right – Erika Heynatz and Trevor Ashley

Most read features

The Umbilical Brothers

You don’t need to flex your visual imagination muscle in the latest show from The Umbilical Brothers. Because two green screens, a lot of cameras, special effects, computer power and an onstage tech wizard named “Doug” do it for you.

Most read reviews

Lighten Up | Tom Gleeson

Master of the deadpan, harsh host of Hard Quiz, and heartless interrogator on Hard Chat, making audiences squirm as much as his victims – Tom Gleeson uses blunt-force trauma as his comedy schtick.

Scandal! A Reflection on Essendon’s Doping Saga: The Musical? | Kit Richards

It doesn’t matter how much you know or care about the legality of the Essendon Football Club supplements program in 2013 – it won’t stop you enjoying this original and entertaining saga, because Kit Richards has a talent for making otherwise dull stories fun and interesting. And for writing damn good songs.

Glengarry Glen Ross | New Theatre

Real estate is just dirt, when you boil it right down, and Mamet’s pedlars of property sure are dirty.

Easter at The Piano Mill 2021

Piano Mill’s success has been due to it offering an alternative means of experiencing fresh, original music in the spirit of a sonic adventure staged outdoors.

Chatty Cathy | Nath Valvo

Valvo entertains the crowd with well crafted jokes about life, love and champagne.

Most read news

Vale Taryn Fiebig

Multi award-winning Australian music theatre and opera star Taryn Fiebig, who made Prince Charles cry with her artistry, passed away in Sydney last night from ovarian cancer, aged 49.

MTC to premiere Digital Theatre

Audiences around Australia will have the opportunity to see Melbourne Theatre Company productions direct from stage to screen with the premiere of MTC Digital Theatre – Friday 16 April 2021.

2020 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards

Andrew Myer AM, Chairman, Sidney Myer Fund has announced the winners of the 2020 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards.