A lot of fun is clearly had by all, during the time spent waiting for the next cue during some major musicals. The first half of Trevor Ashley’s Double Ds: Two Decades of Divadom gave the QPAC audience the chance to feel as if they were waiting in the changing room with Ashley: enjoying anecdotes about 20 years in ‘the business,’ hearing about auditions won and loves lost, and admiring the stamina of an artist who has had leading roles in shows that have run for many, many hundreds of performances.
Peppered with songs from musical theatre roles that Ashley has made uniquely his own (although not, sadly, Jesus Christ Superstar’s Herod on this occasion), the first half was an enjoyable run through a stellar career on the Australian musical stage. Highlights included songs from Priscilla, the Les Mis ‘Master of the House’, and a Hairspray duet with Jaz Flowers which really entertained.
But it was the second half of the show where Ashley really shone. Liza Minnelli, Cher, Eartha Kitt, Whitney Houston and the magnificent Tina Turner were ‘recreated’ as only an Australian Diva Hall of Fame inductee could. I just wish I’d had the chance to see Diamonds Are For Trevor, as the Shirley Bassey tribute was just fabulous—entertaining mimicry (that curling Welsh top lip!) combined with the power of the Ashley voice (and that frock!).
Great to see that the 2019 Brisbane Festival did not stint on the budget. Suitably fabulous lighting (Peter Rubie) established a Las Vegas headlining vibe, and James Simpson (Musical Director, piano and backing vocals) and his 10-piece band were a great choice for this musical event. Although perhaps, on occasion, the sound balance needed to be adjusted in favour of the vocalist, particularly in the first half (and for Flower’s second-half number).
The final encore number, Gloria Gaynor’s “I am what I am,” was of course a perfect finale for an enjoyable Show. But it was the Shirley Bassey “I know what love is” that was the high-point of my evening (or was it “Master of the House,” the Turner “What’s love got to do with it?”,or the Kitt “Champagne Taste”?). Choices, choices… a fun reflection on 20-years-and-counting of Divadom.
Verdict: A fun evening. Particularly if you enjoy diva power and/or musical theatre entertainment.
Audience notes: 18+ (coarse language, sexual references, and adult themes). 120 minutes (plus interval). A the 2019 Brisbane Festival QPAC Concert Hall show (13 September 2019), tickets were $57-67 (plus booking fee).
The reviewer attended the Friday 13 September 2019 performance (8pm). A shorter version of this review is available at the IMHO website.
Pictures from the audience credit: Creative Futures Photography