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13 September, 2019

A kick-ball-change down memory lane, and a quick-wig-change or two, too.

Waffle stomping aside (Google it; but not on your work computer), Trevor Ashley’s “Double Ds: Two Decades of Divadom” was a fabulous night of cabaret charisma, cheekiness and class.

Ably supported by a push-up bra and a superb nine-piece band led by the formidable James Simpson, the QPAC Concert Hall took on a Vegas-headliner vibe, with impressive lighting design, killer costumes, and perhaps its first-ever c-bomb.

It was a kick-ball-change down memory lane (and a quick-wig-change or two, too), with Ashley recounting a “best of” songbook, treating a cosy but committed audience to iconic career highlights including a charming ‘Master of the House’ from Les Miserable and Hairspray favourite ‘Welcome to the Sixties’, during which 2010 co-star Jaz Flowers made a surprise guest appearance and arguably stole the show.

Anecdotes between numbers were frank and fearless, to the delight of some audience members and the disgust of others, but Ashley’s candidness with his audience is to be commended, despite some jokes missing the mark.

Act 1 saw Ashley appear as himself – sans bells, whistles and wigs – whereas Act 2 razzled and dazzled with full face, frocks and guest appearances from Ashley’s most famous divas including Liza, Cher and Shirley.

For my money, the show was built upside down.

Fans of Ashley (and the first-timers they’d brought along) were expecting the divas straight up, so the stripped-back opening was perhaps a little too low-fi for some.

The more poignant and personal stories, I think, would have packed more punch in Act 2, once the belly-laughs had subsided.

While Ashley is undeniably worthy of the world’s grandest concert halls, one can’t help but be jealous of those who experienced his career-beginnings in the much smaller, smokey cabaret clubs.

His shows take on a kind of “at home with friends” intimacy which gets lost somewhat in the cavernous QPAC.

The evening concluded with a rousing performance of ‘I Am What I Am’ from La Cage aux Folles; a show-stopping finale and gig-sealing audition of sorts, for Ashley is born to play Albin in the popular musical by Harvey Fierstein and Jean Poiret.

A smart and savvy producer should see to it ASAP.

As for the perfect director? Well, I hear David Berthold’s got some time up his sleeve from next month…