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LIZA ON AN E – THEATRE REVIEW

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Starring Trevor Ashley

Theatre Royal, Brighton – September 30th 2013

by Andrew Collins

Trevor Ashley is Liza on an E
Trevor Ashley is Liza on an E

A perfectly astonishing and magnanimous performance was given by Australian Trevor Ashley last night as he bought his hit show Liza on an E to Brighton last night.

Ashley, who penned the show based on the life and music of Liza Minnelli, the talented yet troubled singer and daughter of Judy Garland, gave a tremendous act with a live orchestra for over two hours. He sang both original and cleverly adapted versions of her best known songs (plus a wonderful version of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face) – some poignant, most hilarious parody.

Trevor promised to ‘dish the dirt’ on Liza and that he does – in bucket loads, but never cruelly. You do, by the end, become quite sympathetic to Ms. Minnelli as he reveals her loves, loses and inner torments. The finale was especially touching. However, the 36 year old Sydney born singer was here to entertain – for one night only – and he certainly made it count.

Every physical nuance, mannerism and verbal impediment of Liza was satirised wonderfully – acute timing on Trevor’s part married with flawless musical arrangement meant he captivated the audience every time. Here was a man born for the stage, full of boundless energy, glowing and sparkling.

He was joined for a while by the young Chris Mitchell, who carried a song by Peter Allen (one of Minnelli’s four husbands) and quite bravely joined with Ashley for a duet. It was a rather odd conceit and quite a visual mismatch, but an interesting one and luckily Mitchell had the enough talent to hold his own.

Between song and dance routines we were treated to comical first person anecdotes about Minnelli which were revealing and pretty acerbic at times, reducing many in the audience to uncontrollable fits of laughter. Her drug use, relationships, rivalries, bitchiness and emotional pain all coalesced to a full frontal montage under Ashley’s microscope.

Trevor is massively entertaining and at only 36 with thousands of performances already under his belt, his international appeal is continuing to grow. The exceptional seven piece orchestra, led by George Dyer, contrived to give us all a fabulous night out, though considering it was a one-off show in Brighton there should have been many more seats filled.

After the encore, and partial standing ovation Trevor addressed us, sans wig and quite exhausted, to give his thanks. He obviously puts his heart and soul into this well researched show and it is all the better for it. Much more than just an impersonator, Trevor is surely a star in his own right.

Liza on an E is showing at the Lyric Theatre for its West End debut for one night only (7th October) before continuing on its first ever UK tour. 

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