The minute she walked in the joint...Dame Shirley Bassey, aka Impersonator Extraordinaire Trevor Ashley, took command of the stage, and her adoring crowd.
Accompanied by 14 musicians, and sparkling in her fabulous gowns by award winning designer Tim Chappel (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), the Dame, who never let it be fogotten that she is a Dame, sang, bantered with the audience, hurled obscenities and powered through a two-act set of classic Bassey hits, as well as a few covers.
From Pink's Get the Party Started, to the Beatles, to Sondheim and of course the Bond theme songs which made Bassey a star (and the Bond franchise shine even brighter) – Diamonds are Forever, Goldfinger, and even Adele's Skyfall – we are reminded that no matter what, the Dame will always sing it better.
The remarkable Trevor Ashley & co-writer Phil Scott have again created a monster of a tribute show – remember the screamingly funny Liza (on an E)? But for all the laugh-out-loud moments, the exaggerated mannerisms, the outrageous comments – Diamonds is a loving tribute to a remarkably talented singer who dressed and sang with style.
The staging, lighting, musical arrangements and of course the fantastic sound of 14 musicians on stage (led by Geoffrey Castles) all came together in this splendid production.
The only jarring moment of the night was a sad, revealing few minutes in the second act when Dame Shirley talked of a personal tragedy. Something that most audience members were probably unaware of and weren't expecting. However, it did lead into a very powerful rendition of If He Needs Me from Oliver!
The second act also delivered some of Bassey's most memorable songs – Hey, Big Spender, This is My Life (a signature song if ever there was one) and a triumphant I Am What I Am to close the show and earn a unanimous standing ovation.
Dame Shirley Bassey may not approve, but she should be pleased that she has influenced performers like Trevor Ashley to create these theatrical jewels (Diamonds are for Trevor moves us way beyond the cabaret spectrum). And as for Mr Ashley...he's fast becoming a national treasure of pure talent.
Arts Centre Melbourne presents
Diamonds are for Trevor
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse
Dates: 28 January – 2 February 2014
Tickets: $30 – $75
Bookings:artscentremelbourne.com.au | 1300 182 183