When Trevor Ashely and I started our phone interview, I immediately got a sense of the exuberance and passion that he must bring to his life and various projects, which you’d obviously need quite a bit of, if you were planning on bringing the life of Australia’s most favourite glamour girl Carol Spencer (affectionately known as Carlotta) to the stage!
You would be hard pressed to find many other Australian performers from any era whose life would make as great a musical as Carolotta’s, and this new show is only focussing on a brief portion of this consummate performers’ life. From Spencer’s early days in the swingin’ 60s through to the decadent days of the 1980s – with the role of Carlotta being played by various performers to represent the different stages in her life. Trevor says the juxtaposition of the two different lives that Carol Spencer was living at the time makes for some brilliant story telling, not to mention flashy musical numbers and stunning costumes to boot… or heel!
Carlotta was a showgirl at Les Girls in Sydney during the evenings and worked as a window dresser at David Jones during the day, all while trying to survive in the harsh reality of suburban Balmain and the trashy headiness of 1960s King’s Cross.
Trevor and Carol have known each other for over 20 years so when the opportunity came up to tackle this most fabulous of subject matters, he took the idea and just went with it!
He created the role of Miss Understanding in the original cast of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, with several roles in other major musicals including Hairspray’s Edna Turnblad in the Sydney and Melbourne seasons in 2010-11 and Thenardier in the 2014-15 tour of Les Miserables, for which he was nominated for the Helpmann Award.
Trevor has also had experience behind the curtain, directing the Australian premier of Heathers: The Musical, which played at the Hayes Theatre in Sydney in 2015, then touring for stints in Melbourne and Brisbane before making a triumphant return to Sydney for an encore production at the Sydney Opera House.