Tempted. Very tempted. Tempted not to tell anything about last night’s show. I want to keep it all to myself. But since we’re friends, and if you promise not to spread it around, I might tell you about a really fantastic Sydney cabaret event. It’s called SHOWQUEEN and with the sure hands of Chris Archer and the irrepressible Trevor Ashley beneath it, you just know its reliably top notch. And it’s on every month in Oxford St at Ginger’s: a great little intimate venue with terrific food.
Trevor Ashley seriously. The man is a force of nature. Priscilla Queen of The Desert – The Musical, Diamonds are for Trevor, and just off Liza’s Back (is Broken) at Glen Street. He’s obviously a living breathing icon but who knew he was such a warm, wry and witty host. You get to hear him sing too … bonus.
Upbeat Carpenter’s hit ‘Sing, Sing a Song’ to begin and a superbly grubby blues number ‘Get Laid’ as the evening finale. Trevor, I can call him that, he picked up my jacket when it fell on the floor and patted me, is known for those high notes … his best Streisand for ‘People’ with brushed drums and soul touching joy in sharing … but when he occasionally gets down low in his bottom register I get goosebumps. Oh that sounds rude but I really mean it. He’s not averse to some deep shoulder action between songs either
Speaking of icons. Mark Trevorrow. Oh yum! Even without his acrylic Bob Down wig, he is one good lookin dude. With a lightly sparkling jacket that doesn’t disappoint ‘This Could Be the Start of Something Big’ (Steve Allen) was a lovely arrangement … smooth. But he can’t resist a ba ba boom at the end. A medley of 3 wonderfully arranged lesser known Sondheims is next and then the clincher. ‘Rainbow Connection’ (Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher from THE MUPPET MOVIE).
Oxford Street clamour might have wafted up through the open windows but the audience was transfixed by his interpretation. And transported. Replete with meaning, resonant with import and lyrically wistful Trevorrow held community in the palm of his hand.
Who else in this classy, champagne lineup?
Luigi Lucente and ‘One Song: Glory’ from RENT which means so much to us all. Just beautifully rendered with a spine chilling keyboard intro from Bev Kennedy and gentle stick hit cymbals, and echoey guitar from the Dixie Tunes. Following up with a slow, character filled ‘Raise a Little Hell’ from BONNIE AND CLYDE which elided into a stormin upbeat showtune with a cracker final top note. It’s going to be a sore hands night.
Next up was Ali Calder. Her Sara Bareilles’ ‘She Used to Be Mine’ was just so sad and touching with breathtaking extended notes held over the whistles of the crowd. Chilling. And a standing ovation. Then she really hits the crowd hard with ‘I’m a Star’ (Scott Allan). Flawless.
After interval, Jennifer Peers. ‘10,432 Sheep’ (Karen Akers) with its “we better get married soon” lyric didn’t miss the mark. Such a funny song and sold with precision and the brilliance of a wonderful voice. Heading into a slow 40/50s jazz standard the audience was well ready to for a rhythmic sway to a soulful air and a hugely applauded keyboard interlude.
Daniel Belle with “What Is It About Her?” from THE WILD PARTY (Andrew Lippa) took the audience on a similar emotional journey. With hand brushed drum and bell-reminiscent keyboard Belle’s passionate rendition raised the power to the max, then he dropped, before a brief heads-up, into “Lost in the Waves” (Chris Dimond, Michael Kooman). An audience who understands loss allowed space to be thoughtful and longing.
Luckily Erin Cornell can tell a great comic story as her intro. Tears were avoided … and who doesn’t want to be married to Hugh Jackman? A few notes was all that was needed after that and you have a crazy crowd for ‘The Man That Got Away’ (Harold Arlen, Ira Gershwin). And there was no calming us for ‘Let It Go’ (Kristen Anderson-Lopez,Robert Lopez) from FROZEN. The yelling might have almost drowned out those huge floated top notes but they kept on coming!
Treat upon treat when Cornell is joined by Ali Calder. Both artists have played Elphaba in WICKED and female energy abounds. ‘For Good’ is the anthem to finish a “fuckin hoot” of a time as our host so delicately puts it. Yes Trev … “they sang the tits off it”.
The next SHOWQUEEN is November 19th followed by the Christmas event 17 December. The line-up sounds amazing as always. Since 2007, when they started, the crème of Australian musical stars and cabaret have shown up to share a brilliant night. But just between us, join their mailing list at https://www.showqueen.com.au/ because there was standing room only last night and tickets will go on sale soon. But keep it to yourself OK?