Ring Them Bells! A Very Liza Xmas
Created by and Starring Trevor Ashley
Musical Director Andy Davies
Musical Arrangements by James Simpson
Paddo RSL December 6, 13, 16 and 17
Parramatta Riverside December 19
Reviewed by Ron Lee
Trevor Ashley went from filling theatres at the Sydney Opera House to performing at an RSL club that sells $14 schnitzels.
Fortunately, the drop in venue prestige doesn’t diminish the superb quality and enjoyment of his latest production.
On the surface, Ring Them Bells! A Very Liza Xmas is a drag show on Oxford Street. In reality, it presents us with the opportunity of appreciating and being thoroughly entertained by one of the most significant and extraordinary talents in Australia today.
There are fine lines between caricature, send-up and genuine affection for the performer to whom you’re paying tribute, and Trevor Ashley effortlessly and seamlessly glides across all areas.
Straight into the Christmas theme, Ashley, all-glittering in sequins and lamé, opens with Christmas Bells. Then come mentions of Studio 54 and cocaine habits which are referenced in Let It Snow, White Christmas and Frosty The Snowman. It gives an entirely different perspective on Christmas carols. It might be interesting to look for subtext in other carols over the holiday period.
With comedic creativity and impeccable timing, the show is filled with bitchy and contemporary one-liners. “Memory (from Cats) is so indestructible that even Delta Goodrem couldn’t destroy it.” Ashley performs the classic song in an intriguing jazz cabaret style.
Ashley has studied Liza Minnelli to the point at which the gestures and speaking and singing voices have become second nature. Jazz hands and characteristic Minnelli finishing song poses are entertaining in themselves. He, like Liza, also knows how to sell a serious ballad.
One bit that I didn’t see coming was a song performed as Judy Garland. The vocal likeness was uncannily accurate.
He also knows how to put a team together. The seven-piece band, including Musical Director Andy Davies and arrangements by James Simpson, significantly contribute to the extraordinary experience.
I suspect that, these days, Ashley could out-Liza Liza, and the show includes a rousing rendition of New York, New York.
Unlike the previous two shows, The Lyin’ Queen and The Bodybag The Panto, which were brilliant, Ring Them Bells! A Very Liza Xmas, is basically a one-person show that highlights even more the impressive and substantial talents of one Trevor Ashley.