What is a diva? A supremely talented super woman? A difficult, tantrum-throwing, chart-topping singer? The female version of a hustler? Well, as Trevor Ashley proves in his return season of I’m Every Woman, a diva is all these things and much more.
In typical diva style, Ashley took to the stage almost half an hour late on opening night. He wasn’t backstage refusing to go on or barking absurd demands at the staff (no brown M&M’s!) – he’d simply forgotten his Cher leotard. And the show, of course, cannot go on without the Cher leotard. Thankfully, nobody seemed to mind the extra few minutes to grab a drink or five from the bar, and from his entrance in sparkling gold, Ashley had the audience enthralled.
With 14 wigs, Ashley transforms onstage into the women that have inspired him to perform throughout his life. There’s Shirley, Judy, Liza, Whitney, Cher and pretty much anyone who doesn’t need a surname. Except Madonna, because as Ashley proudly points out, he sings live.
His voice, on opening night, sounded stronger than ever. He belts every top note out with clarity and power to rival some of the divas he impersonates. Vocally, some are closer to the real thing than others, but he showcases remarkable versatility.
With a few of his own stories thrown in amongst the impersonations, this is one of his most personal shows. He’s equally as comfortable chatting ‘off-the-cuff’ with the audience during costume changes as he is channeling Bassey decked out in head-to-toe sparkles.
After doing a full show of Shirley Bassey at the State Theatre last year with Diamonds are For Trevor, it’s still one of his most successful impersonations. But his Cher and Judy Garland are also fantastic. Cher has found a kindred spirit in John Farnham, performing a hit from another superstar who just won’t retire and Judy sings ‘I Know Him So Well’ from Chess with daughter Liza. The Whitney Houston moment is also an absolute showstopper, although maybe not the way she’d like to be remembered.
By now, Australia knows that Ashley is a consummate entertainer with the skills, charisma and comedic timing to win over any audience. International audiences are about to discover this unique talent with the West End debut of his successful Liza on an E later this month. We can only hope his inevitable international success doesn’t keep him away from Australian shores for too long.