AU ABROAD

Arts Review: Trevor Ashley in Liza’s Back (Is Broken) - Arts Centre Melbourne (Performances To January 31)

It’s truly incredible what one man can achieve with a touch of sequin, a lot of pizazz and a set of lungs that support such badass pipes for a whole two hours. Trevor Ashley is one of, if not, the best drag queen performer this divine country has ever had. And yes Dame Edna Everage that includes you.

Unlike most drag queens who lip-sync their shows, or do in fact sing, Mr Ashley brings a whole other dimension to the cabaret scene. Fresh from coming off a two-year national tour with Les Miserables and directing the Hayes Theatre Co’s latest show Heathers, comes a show that is destined for Broadway. Channelling the Goddess of Broadway that is Liza Minnelli comes Liza’s Back (Is Broken); a compelling show that explores the roles which Liza Minnelli should have played on Broadway.

Now wrap your head around that for a moment. All the roles Liza should have played. Well, our brain just goes into overdrive. Picture this. A remarkable Trevor Ashley bursts onto the stage, joined by a phenomenal seven-piece band led by Andy Davies, and he really is a true embodiment of our beloved Liza Minnelli. The similarity is uncanny: the voice, the mannerisms, the intonations, the movement. It really is as if Liza was putting on a show in right here in Melbourne.

Ashley is such an endearing performer and you can tell he has such love and adoration for Ms Minnelli. The show as a whole is disgracefully hilarious and had the whole audience gasping for air. More often than not we were thinking, ‘Did he really just say that?’ or ‘Did he actually just say that about good ol’ Babs?’ Well, for the most part, Ashley did say that and we lapped up every last crass joke.

We saw Liza in The Sound of Music, she gave us everything as Cassie from A Chorus Line singing ‘Music and the Mirror’ – dance break and all. It was a true highlight of the show. We even saw Liza play the role her mother Judy Garland made famous in The Wizard of Oz, which transitioned fantastically into Elphaba from Wicked. It was amazing to see.

We were also lucky to see Liza give us some Les Miserables action, and even a bit of Mamma Rose from Gypsy, but we knew we’d seen it all when Liza metaphorically transformed into and embodied her mum, Ms Garland. It is known that Garland suffered from alcohol and drug abuse and to see that brought to life in a more comical light was truly hilarious and deserves much praise.

The show rounded out perfectly with Liza’s infamous hit ‘Cabaret’, which Ashley soared to new heights on, and of course ‘New York, New York’. The fact that Ashley sang the whole show in a female’s vocal register was astonishing to us; he fought for every last note. This is a sensational show with so much heart and we highly encourage everyone to get along to it.

Liza’s Back (Is Broken) is a part of the Midsumma Festival, with performances until January 31. For more information visit this site..

The reviewer attended the show on opening night January 21.