On Centre Stage. By Douglas Kennedy
Little Orphan Annie’s Gender Bender in Adults Only Panto.
Cabaret star and drag artist Trevor Ashley, who gave us an off-the-wall spoof with Fat Swan last year, returns to the Powerhouse this week (July 17-20).
Last time Ashley and co-writer Phil Scott were lampooning
the ballet thriller, Black Swan, but this time the target is the
evergreen children’s musical Annie in Little Orphan Trashley.
Ashley, whose career was launched in 1998 at the Sydney
Cabaret Convention and continued with the roles of Miss Understanding in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Edna Turnbald in Hairspray, appears to have come up with an original eye—catching format in these adult only pantos.
In Fat Swan he played Natalie Portly opposite Tara Morice as Natalie’s mad mum in the juke box story of the anorexic dancer, who thinks she is overweight but is still desperate to be a ballet star.
Apart from an overbearing mum, Natalie had a condition called body dysmoria as well as other health issues too delicate for OCS to explore.
This time around Ashley has teamed with Rhonda Burchmore (Hot Shoe Shuffle) and TV’s Gary Sweet (House Husbands) to play orphan Fannie.
Once again Little Trashley boasts a mix of drag, pantomime, musical theatre and parody all dished up with large serves of hit modern juke box songs, smart satire and plenty of glitz.
Fannie – Annie – still wants to find her parents, but in a typical Ashley-Scott add-on the 10-year-old wants her folks to sign her up for gender reassignment surgery.
That’s it. A sex change.
Veteran singer and dancer Rhonda Burchmore – the much adored performer with legs that…well let’s just say long legs – stars against type as the drunken showbiz has-been, Miss Trannigan, who runs the Sutherland Shire Girl’s Orphanage.
Burch has dubbed the show, ‘the raciest, funniest and cheekiest,’ in her long career and predicts it would hardly be described as, ‘a mild-mannered night’ at the theatre.
The now appropriately bald Gary Sweet is Daddy Warhorse , the little girl’s multi-millionaire philanthropist, but the Ashley-Scott asides include ‘arty photo shoots, interviews on the Ellen Jones talk-back radio and auditions for a TV show reminiscent of The Voice.
The contemporary songs – as the pro-mo states sung by a cast of eccentric millionaires, drunken dames, trash-talking orphans and leather-clad sniffer dogs – were originally recorded by the likes of Lady Gaga, One Direction and Carly Rae Jepson.
Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott seem to have cracked a winning formula with their adults only pantos, but it will be interesting to see how far the series can go.
Last year Ashley was talking about a new show Diamonds are for Trevor – a clever play on the old Bond song – as well as TV series The Very Trevor Ashley Show.
Whatever happens the star, who has great stage presence, has a long way to go and will undoubtedly be around for sometime to come in some shape or other.