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Liza’s Back (Is Broken) review

Trevor Ashley’s one-man Liza Minelli show at the Udderbelly Festival.

Liza's Back
Credit: John McRae

Liza's BackTrevor Ashley toured the world with his acclaimed tribute Liza On An E and makes a barn-storming return to London with his latest Minelli tribute.

Stepping on to the stage after a stint in rehab, Ashley’s Liza sings, stomps and slurs through some of the performer’s most legendary hits. The intimate show is given a twist as we’re treated to Liza’s rendition of all the Broadway roles that were “written for her” but went to lesser rivals including Julie Andrews, Angela Lansbury and Barbra Streisand. Maria in The Sound of Music? The producers begged Liza to do the role! Funny Girl’s Fanny Brice? Written specifically for Ms Minelli! Elphaba in Wicked? You get the idea.

It’s an inspired direction and gives fresh life to Ashley’s pitch perfect, loving Liza send-up. The choice of musicals covered are par for the course but many of the song choices surprise as the Australian performer, who also wrote the show, doesn’t always opt for the show’s signature songs. So, instead of Wicked’s Defying Gravity, we get The Wizard And I – a treat for musical aficionados but perhaps anti-climatic for the casual theatre-goer.

Those coming to hear the tracks Liza made famous will not be left disappointed though, as the likes of Cabaret and Maybe This Time raise the roof.

Credit: John McRae

Ashley delivers each song with Liza’s trademark showbiz pizzazz and has her mannerisms down to an art – exaggerated to just the right degree. The seven piece band, led by Theo Jamieson, are fantastic, filling London’s unique Spiegeltent venue with a fabulous sound.

The tracks are interspersed with comedic turns. The jokes write themselves, drugs and David Gest feature heavily, but the comedy never feels vicious. Many of the songs are also re-written for laughs and those that aren’t benefit from some winning visual comedy – Send In The Clowns, delivered as Liza chain smokes and knocks back a martini, is a real highlight.

With an explosion of campery and showtunes, Trevor Ashley is welcome back as Liza anytime.

Cast: Trevor Ashley Writer: Trevor Ashley Musical Director: Theo Jamieson Duration: 100 mins Theatre: Udderbelly Festival Dates: June 27-July 2 2017

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