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Review: Trevor Ashley - Queen Of The Moment (Lyric Theatre)

Review by Daz Gale


Trevor Ashley is no stranger to the West End, having brought previous shows Liza (on an E) and Liza’s Back! (is Broken) to the London stage. His third foray into the West End may well be his biggest yet, moving in to the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue for one night only. A lot has changed since he was last seen in London with a lot more people getting to know Trevor due to his participation in the TV show Queen Of The Universe (like RuPaul’s Drag Race but with talent” as he describes it) so would this latest show reign supreme on a Monday night in the West End?

Hailing from Australia, Trevor Ashley has many strings to his bow. The drag diva is known as a cabaret star, known for his tributes to Liza Minelli and Dame Shirley Bassey, and a musical theatre icon having appeared in Les Miserables, Hairspray and originating the role of Miss Understanding in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. Most recently, he finished as the runner-up on the global drag singing competition Queen Of The Universe. It is this career retrospective that forms the basis for new show Queen Of The Moment, taking in all elements from his many talents and bringing us right up to date.

Full disclosure – I went in to this show a complete Trevor Ashley virgin. I hadn’t watched Queen Of The Universe and had not been to any of his previous West End shows, though the posters for Liza’s Back! (Is Broken) had piqued my interest. Upon reading about Trevor and his past, I had the feeling this would be a performer and a show I would easily fall in love with, and so happily popped my cherry. Boy, am I glad I did!

To say Trevor Ashley is an accomplished performer would be an understatement. From the moment he sauntered on to the stage, he oozed star power, commanding the stage in every second throughout the fairly lengthy two hours plus that made up Queen Of The Moment. Boasting a sensational vocal range that accompanied expert storytelling and impeccable timing, Trevor was a powerhouse performer throughout, winning me and the entire audience over mere moments after opening his mouth.

Stories from his recent time on the TV series filled the show sporadically as he let the audience in to secrets from behind the scenes before recreating some of his most memorable performances from the series. These included opening number ‘Get The Party Started’, a truly rousing ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ (one of THREE Tina Turner songs to make an appearance during the show) and a spectacular rendition of Kylie Minogue’s ‘Better The Devil You Know’, completely transformed to become a torch song.

The varied setlist featured upbeat, party numbers mixed with slower, more sentimental numbers. These for me provided the standout moments of the evening as the dedications to family members who had passed created authentically emotional performances with a particular moving version of Bette Midler’s ‘The Rose’ truly resonating and showcasing Trevor’s ability to tap in to the heart of lyrics.

Trevor also paid homage to his time in musical theatre, reminiscing and recreating his audition song for Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert (“I played a bus”) with a parody number full of British references he had admirably written that very day. This was followed by a performance of ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ – a number Trevor would perform in the show hundreds of times. While we may not have got any Edna Turnblad or Thernardier in this performance, we were treated to a fabulous bit of The Rocky Horror Show in the shape of ‘Science Fiction Double Feature’.

His iconic tributes to Dame Shirley Bassey and Liza Minelli both had extended appearances, one in each act. His far too good version of Shirley Bassey closed act one with a series of numbers (though admittedly two of them were the same song) but it was his Liza Minelli that truly brought the house down. The characterisation of this legendary performer was wickedly funny and pretty much note-perfect, with two numbers from Cabaret and Liza’s take on ‘Memory’ from Cats really saving the best for last.

Backed by an eight-piece band, the music sounded glorious with some of the greatest numbers in theatre, cabaret and pop all coming together beautifully with Trevor’s outstanding vocals and the gorgeous band providing a stunning mix. If I was to be very picky, perhaps the structure of this show in particular didn’t feel as put together as perhaps it could have been, and some of the more comedic moments of the show fell flat, with a couple of one-liners resulting in an awkward silence from the audience. However, these are minor quibbles I have with an otherwise well-rounded and fabulous production

Trevor Ashley is a man of many talents, and getting to witness all of them in the West End felt like a blessing. Whether he is Liza, Shirley or just himself, he really can do no wrong. A truly exceptional performer and one we may be seeing a lot more of in the West End as he announced he is moving to London. I may not have been aware of Trevor Ashley previously or been lucky enough to see him live but now that I have seen him live, I have definitely caught the Trevor Ashley bug and consider myself a fan. Truly the Queen of the Cabaret stage, it was refreshing to show the true versatility that can be found in a Drag show. I look forward to seeing what this fabulous performer does next.

Trevor Ashley: Queen Of The Moment played at the Theatre on Monday 9th October.

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