Trevor Ashley as Liza Minellli (John McRae)
Australian Theater Star Trevor Ashley will make his long-awaited New York City debut with his new show Liza's Back! (Is Broken). Fresh off the heels of a successful smash run in Australia and London, including a sell-out run at The Sydney Opera House. Ashley brings his show across the pond for his American debut on Monday, February, 4th at Sony Hall.
Using humor, wit, and powerhouse vocals, Liza’s Back! (Is Broken) imagines the Broadway career the legendary Liza Minnelli might have had, if she taken on other roles such as Maria in The Sound of Music, Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, or as Grizabella in Cats.
Trevor is no stranger to the stage, in fact that is where he got his start. He has starred as Thenardier in Les Miserables for which he received his third Helpmann Award nomination, the Australian equivalent of a Tony. He has also starred as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray (Sydney Theatre Award nomination), and was also an original cast member of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, creating the role of Miss Understanding.
RyeTheNewsGuy.com chatted with Trevor in an exclusive interview ahead of his debut at Sony Hall. He talks about the creation of the show, his inspiration to take on Liza Minnelli, taking his show on the road, creating a one person cabaret show, and much more.
To purchase tickets to Liza's Back! (Is Broken) at Sony Hall, click here.
Where did the idea come from to take on Liza and from that come up with “Liza (On an E)” and “Liza’s Back (Is Broken)”?
It happened a little by accident. I was on an Atlantis cruise, and my show had gone down so well I had run out of songs, so I sat at the piano and pretended to be Liza doing “Cabaret.” The crowd went crazy, and it was a spur of the moment thing, Then they announced her doing an Australian tour, and I thought, "Maybe I should just follow her round the country doing her." So I did.
What can we expect to see from the show “Liza’s Back (Is Broken)” at Sony Hall?
You will see Liza in concert with a fabulous seven piece band, many of whom have worked with the real Liza. Of course it won’t be her, it’s me, and this time instead of performing all her hit songs, she performs all the roles that she never got to play! It's pretty funny, but also, very musically intelligent.
What is your favorite song of Liza’s to perform?
“Maybe This Time,” oh, and “New York New York.” They're classics and when you do them as her, it feels completely different.
Trevor Ashley as Liza Minnelli in Time Square (John McRae)
How have you mastered the voice of Liza? Have you met her and has she been inspiration?
I have just watched endless tapes and interviews. I am a natural mimic, and I can nail her voice for some reason. Her people have kept me as far away from her as possible... probably for good reason. I love her too much that I would actually pass away from the excitement.
Tell me a little bit about how you’ve come up with your characters and shows which include “Little Orphan TrAshely,” “Diamonds are for Trevor,” and “I’m Every Woman?"
A lot of my shows that I do back home are parody pantos. You know, like the English children’s show, but for adults. In “Orphan TrAshley” I was basically Annie, “Fat Swan” I was Natalie Portly, and recently in “The Bodybag,” I was Rachel Marronade - and it was a piss take of “The Bodyguard.: They all take the form of a kids show with audience participation and up to the minute satirical humour. “Diamonds” and “I’m Every Woman” are more cabaret style concerts. I play Dame Shirley Bassey in the former, and about 12 different divas in the latter. These are really shows that I base on impersonations and my singing rather than anything else.
Your roots are in the theater and you’ve starred in roles including Thenardier, Edina Turnblad, and Miss Understanding in “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.” How have these experiences and working in theater helped you in your shows?
Of course! I have been in love with theatre since I was a kid so every experience has built up. Those big long running blockbuster musicals are hard work... I have performed those roles hundreds of times! My shows never run for long enough to get sick of, and I love the creativity of making them myself.
Trevor Ashley as Liza Minnelli (John McRae)
Do you have any new projects in the works you can tell us about?
I have a few that I do but I can't say anything yet!! One is a really exciting new big gig, and it's different to everything I've ever done, so follow my socials!
What advice do you have for performers who want to take their talents and create something of their own like what you have done?
I say go and see EVERYTHING! Meet EVERYONE. And learn your history. RuPaul is right when she says "Teach The Children". You need to know what has come before you to be new and different.