Cabaret Festival

Cabaret Festival Review: Showqueen with Trevor Ashley

Trevor Ashley is simply the best – he is a showqueen through and through

Trevor Ashley is simply the best - he is a showqueen through and through

Presented by: Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed: 24 June, 2023

There is only one Trevor Ashley. He is a showqueen through and through, and his variety cabaret performance at this year’s Cabaret Festival, Showqueen with Trevor Ashley, certainly highlighted why he is one of Australia’s best drag acts. Fierce, funny, witty and a powerful voice — Trevor is the complete package.

For many years, Trevor has been producing Showqueen in Sydney as a platform to showcase up-and-coming artists as well as ensemble members from large-scale musicals who often miss getting the spotlight. 

Trevor’s energy and excitement filled the Banquet Room from the moment he stepped on stage. He didn’t have to work hard to pull the audience into his world — they were already there. With his trade-mark powerful voice, his infectious wicked cackle and quick wit, Trevor celebrated everything that the Cabaret Festival is about, warning audiences that the show would run much longer than the advertised run time…but who cares! When you have Trevor Ashley and his friends performing for you, there really is nowhere else you would want to be. 

A moving moment in Trevor’s performance was his touching tribute to his late mother with a moving rendition of Bette Midler’s The Rose. You would have been lucky to find a dry eye in the house. After a string of up-tempo, high energy numbers, to make a buzzing room freeze and hang on every moment is no mere feat. You could have heard a pin drop — such a powerful moment.

As it was the closing night of the Cabaret Festival, the line up for Showqueen was star-studded. Catherine Alcorn, Phil Scott, Mama Alto, Michael Griffiths, Rizo, and Reuben Kaye each brought their own unique and colourful flair to the night. Their banter with the audience was hilarious, their vocals and song selections brought the house down, and they showed why each of them are in-demand cabaret performers worldwide.

Standout guest of the night was certainly the 2024 Cabaret Festival artistic director, Virginia Gay. She promised audiences a taste of what the 2024 program may look like — and if her performance really is an indication…sign me up. Her dramatic interpretation of Mr. Sandman took to the darker side of cabaret, showcasing her extraordinary vocal skills.

Trevor and his guests were supported by a sensational house band. Featuring Trevor’s long-time musical collaborator Bev Kennedy on piano and Adelaide locals Chris Neale on drums and Nick Sinclair on electric and double bass, this trio weaved their way throughout the expansive set list with ease. They provided a tight, dynamic accompaniment across the evening, often sight-reading some of the guest performers’ charts.

Trevor Ashley rounded out the performance, and the Cabaret Festival, with two rousing encores – Tina Turner’s Simply The Best and I Am What I Am from La Cage aux Folles. Trevor couldn’t have summarised this performance any better; he is simply the best and once again proved why he is top of his craft.

Reviewed by Ben Stefanoff

Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

Venue: Banquet Room, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: Ended

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