Interviews — November 14, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Diva Trevor Ashley Presents STAR*STRUCK to Singapore


Trevor Ashley is a writer, director, performer, drag artist and producer from Sydney. His speciality is musicals: he was Miss Understanding in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, Franz Leibkind in The Producers, and has created a bunch of delirious shows including Fat Swan, a parody of the movie Black Swan and Diamonds are for Trevor, a tribute to Shirley Bassey.

He’s just arrived in Singapore to perform his biggest show yet, STAR*STRUCK on Friday and Saturday, featuring the world’s most beloved divas and their legendary hits. We had this delicious telephonic conversation earlier today…

Trevor Ashley


Hello Trevor, welcome to Singapore!

Thank you, very excited to be here.


Is it your first time in the country?

Actually not, it’s my fourth or fifth trip, but the first time performing.


So you know the place pretty well!

I mean some places, I’ve been to the harbor, the old town, Sentosa, so I know a few bits.


I’ve heard you’ve been acting since the age of 5 so it’s been a while. What is your career like?

Well I’m 33 now, so thank God it’s been a while! But basically I started to do a lot of stuff at school and obviously I trained as a kid and went to lots of different places. Then when I got older, I was thinking about whether I was going to go to university and study acting or not, and I said to my parents, “Well, if I have a year and don’t get any work, then I’ll go studying at the university, but if I have a year where I’m working, then I’m just gonna keep working.” And I went to work straight out of school, so I kind of never stop. But since then I’ve done some major musicals – Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Hairspray and The Producers, and I’m gonna be doing Les Misérables next year.


You also create your own shows. How do you get your original one man show ideas from?

It really depends. When I play a particular character, like I have a full show that’s just live – and that’s great. But, I can do that show, or the Shirley Bassey show that I do, and then I have STAR*STRUCK that has a lot of different characters, and then I’ve written some other shows that are adult only or children shows…which sounds very strange but it works.

But yes, the idea just comes to me and I think, oh I’d really like to play that character or do that show and that’s kind of how I come up with ideas and I usually go act with someone else.


What is it like to transform into a woman or diva? How do you get that mindset?

I guess I’ve always thought that I was a diva so it didn’t take too much to get that mindset! The ever sore is the dressing up because it takes so long to get the make-up and the corset and the padding in the right places and all that. That’s the stuff that takes the longest. But the mindset thing is me.


How do you know when you’re doing a good parody of someone like Lady Gaga?

I like to capture how they look which I’m trying to do as much as possible – obviously I’m not the thinnest person in the world so they all sort of look like they’ve let themselves go a little bit. I also think that when you’re trying to parody someone, it’s trying to get the essence of who they are. For me, all of them have their own special qualities that make them act and perform in the way they do. Oh I think that if I’ve captured that as their voice, then I’ve nailed it…


Tell us more about this week’s show you’re performing in Singapore, STAR*STRUCK and what sets this show apart from other ones that you’ve done?

I’m doing a whole lot of different artists and I’m gonna be performing lots of different people in the show. I tell a few stories from my own life and stories about each of the girls that I’m impersonating. But it’s basically some of the greatest songs that have ever been written, because all of these divas are so legendary that each of them have at least two signature songs that people would recognize the world over. So I think that’s what’s great about the show is that when you come along, you’ll know every single song that I’m performing. But maybe they are not doing the songs that they normally would do. It’s good, it works very well, it will be a lot of fun, and I’m really looking forward to it.


Who’s your favorite character to play?

Shirley Bassey, I like her, I like being her. She has the best costume.


Asia is quite a huge fan of American musicals – HairsprayWicked, and more. What’s the specificity of Aussie musicals?

I think for Australia we’re a bit like Asia in the way that America has really infiltrated out our culture: we get a lot of American shows, also British shows, so we sort of have a good balance. I think it’s really hard these days for Australian artists and shows to get up and work up because so much money is thrown at these American artists and shows when they come to Australia, so I think it’s hard to be amongst all of the massive money they will have.


You’ve toured in Asia before. What do you think of the region, and do you feel they “get it”?

I hope so, I mean this is my first time performing to the public here. I’ve done some cruises that have left from here but I haven’t actually done anything in front of an audience, so I hope they do like it. And I think they certainly have to understand the famous performers that I’m impersonating, so I hope they will like it as much as they did in Australia and in England.


Have you heard of Kumar, the Singaporean comedian, performer and drag queen?

No, and I haven’t seen him. But, I mean Australia is so great because we’ve always had drags and they’ve always seemed part of that culture forever, and I don’t know why but people are pretty relaxed about it in Australia. So even in America you know people find it a bit strange. But I think as long as you go out there and do what you do best, the people do respond well.


Who do you feel is really ripe for a parody right now in the female celeb world?

Miley Cyrus obviously, because she’s just being ridiculous and if I could wear that tiny little swimming suit, I’ll probably try to do it, but it wouldn’t look very good. But I thought she’d certainly be one of the ones I’d try to do. Nicki Minaj as well. I think both of them are kind of a bit… I don’t like them so much, I’d want to sort of rip them apart a little bit.


What do you feel the difference is between a tribute – say to Shirley Bassey, and one like Liza (on an E)?

I still always try and give you some moments when I’m not making fun of them, that are very serious, and I think because I capture them vocally so well I can think just like them. It means I have a balance in each show. So even though in these shows there are a few people that I just make fun of, most of the time I try to create something that is the essence of that woman and you realize why she’s such a big star. 


What are your favorite places to play around the world?

I love New York, I love being there, performing there, I loved being in London this year – it’s been wonderful there. I’ve played a few places around Europe and Vienna, and I really enjoyed that. The only other place I’ve ever played in Asia is Hong Kong and it’s really fun too, but it was mainly Australians who were all there, so funny.


You will be part of Les Misérables’ cast in Melbourne next year. What are your other upcoming projects?

Basically it’s sort of touring with the shows so we’re doing STAR*STRUCK or Shirley Bassey to sort of book up a little bit. That’s part of it and then it’s rehearsals and I’ll be doing that for quite a while. So it’s busy. It’s really busy and I haven’t got very much time, so I’m trying to take a little bit of time off when I can and I’m hoping that next time I’m back here, which should be next March after a cruise from Bali to Singapore, that I can stay a bit longer and see a bit more of the city.


You have 24 hours. You can go anywhere you want, do anything, see anything, eat anything. Where are we off to?

I would go to New York and see Broadway shows. Let’s hope I have a bit of time to see a couple of them.



Friday 15 and Saturday 16 Nov 2013
DBS Arts Centre – Home of SRT, Singapore
Tickets: S$58 and S$68 via Sistic (all remaining tickets are available at 25% off)
More details on the show here.