THE Prince of Polyester is back in Brisbane — but is he the man you thought you knew?
Bob Downe returns to the Queensland capital to reveal not only that he’s been living a lie, he’s also been living a rainbow one.
He will be performing with an all-new repertoire of songs including Leader of the Gang, Billy Don’t Be a Hero and Dream a Little Dream of Me, along with 34 other songs that have enthralled Downe since “birth”.
“The show is a roller coaster ride of shocks, fabulous music and the usual laugh a minute. As always, the songs chose me! Classic hits I’ve loved since my childhood, glued to Countdown and the radio top 40,” Downe said.
Celebrating the 30th year of safari-suits and being Australia’s favourite lounge singer, Downe’s alter-ego Mark Trevorrow, 55, said that it felt like his creation had been around for much longer.
“It’s been an amazing adventure of spills and thrills, tears and fears,” he said.
“When I did that first little sketch outside Caffe Troppo at the Glebe Food Fair, I couldn’t have dreamed where it would lead. And has it really only been 30 years? It feels more like, oh, I don’t know, about 55.”
Trevorrow said that Brisbane audiences can look forward to a show that has been tried and tested across the country and globe.
“I wanted to get it just right for Brisbane,” he winked.
“It’s been a really fun show to do. It’s for people that have been following Bob for a really long time and after 30 years, he’s keeping it fresh but familiar with a few surprises.”
A new character that Trevorrow stumbled upon by accident during the current show’s previews will also be unveiled.
“It started as a sight-gag and has developed into a new character which took me completely by surprise but happened really organically.,” he told the Star Observer.
There wasn’t much Trevorrow was willing to say about the “big secret” revealed by Downe during the show, but he was willing to offer a morsel.
“There isn’t much I can say… but it’s about the gay thing. There’s a clue for you,” he said.
“It’s a gift for all the straight men that come along to my shows after being dragged along by their wives. And the lesbians. There’s something for my lesbian fans as well.”
Trevorrow will share the stage with some of Brisbane’s drag alumni including Lidia Box and Ms Synthetique.
“Two of my favourite Brissy drag queens… they get in the gurnsey.”
Reflecting on the special place that Brisbane has in his heart – and Downe’s – Trevorrow said that his northern fans were always loyal.
“The audiences have always been incredibly loyal and always in the mood to party. They’re really the most ‘up’ and vibrant audiences, both gay and straight,” he said.
He added that taking a break from playing Downe 10 years ago to pursue work as himself with the ABC gave him enough time away from the character to really appreciate him when he returned.
“It gave me a really fresh perspective on Bob and I was able to come back to him with refreshed enthusiasm,” he said.
Reflecting on his recent appearances as himself, notably his night on the ABC’s Q&A program where he sat next to Education Minister Christopher Pyne and witnessed an infamous student protest, Trevorrow said it was definitely an experience.
“It was weird. [The producers] asked me how I was possibly sitting next to Pyne as they hadn’t originally had me doing so. I told them I would love to sit next to him and in fact, Pyne wanted to sit next to me,” he said.
“And the rest, as they say, is history. The episode speaks for itself. He was actually quite charming.
“We haven’t announced our engagement.”
Trevorrow promised Downe would deliver plenty of topical Queensland political observations delivered with a wide smile.
“You’ll definitely know how he feels about contemporary events,” he joked.
Bob, Sweat and Tears is currently running at the Brisbane Powerhouse until Saturday, October 11. Tickets available at brisbanepowerhouse.org