There’s more new ideas and creations coming from Trevor Ashley as we approach the Australian spring, if the recent shoot at my studio is anything to go by.
Trevor is one of Australia’s most creative musical talents with a string of hits and accolades under his belt, including singing, acting, directing and writing. As well as performing in some of the countries biggest musicals such as Hairspray, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and more recently as Pharaoh in Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat, he also creates his own, original brand of cabaret and musical performances (in his spare time), inventing characters larger than life.
Many of you will have seen his brilliant live singing productions as part of the recently televised “Queen of the Universe” where he slayed both the judges and the audiences.
Prior to leaving to Europe for work we organised a shoot at my studio to record some of his new characters. Angie White (costume designer) and Kellie Richie (hair/makeup/wigs) were there to lend a hand with WigsbyVanity. Angie is a talented costume designer who has created many of Trevor’s extraordinary looks over the years. Kellie is a wig expert and makeup artist, known for weaving magic with hair.
As always, I really enjoy working with Trevor. He brings a great energy to every shoot as he unfolds each new character in front of the camera. From femme fatale to ditsy heroine, it’s a joy to watch and document each emerging look.
Keep an eye out for his next adventure when he returns from Europe.
Flick through the slideshow below for more out-takes of the preparation:
On a recent trip to Sydney from his home city of Adelaide, prior to his departure on a working tour of Europe, performer Michael Griffiths came to my studio for a photoshoot. We worked on creating a new series of imagery for the promotion of upcoming shows on which he is currently working. .
His pedigree is recognized. For example, in 2016 Michael Griffiths won the Helpmann Award for best cabaret performer for his Cole Porter tribute. As a graduate of the well-known West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), he is a talented singer and musician who has been performing non-stop since his graduation in 1999.
It is always a joy to work with Michael. Not only is he a talented musician, piano player and performer but he’s got a great sense of humour. This helps to make any shoot good fun. He usually brings a quirky idea or two to the studio, and we go from there.
Michael has recently been performing at El Piano cabaret club in Sitges in Spain (see this link). If you happen to be in that part of Europe, check out his schedule. For the rest of us … we’ll have to wait until Michael returns to the land of Oz.
I love, love, love the work of Mr Paul Capsis. It seems everything he touches he brings to new life….it moves and emotes with a depth of soul.
For anyone who is not familiar with Paul’s body of work, he is an award-winning Australian actor of Maltese/Greek extraction, a singer and playwright who has been working consistently for decades. He has released four albums, appeared in several films (for example alongside Alex Dimitriades in Ana Kokkinos’ 1998 film “Head On”), appeared in countless theatre productions in Australia and Europe, written and performed in his own auto-biographical play and is a regular in musical theatre and cabaret. In 2012, he won the category of “Best Male Actor in a Play” and “Best New Australian Work” at the 12th Helpmann Awards, for his one-man play “Angela’s Kitchen”, with Capsis portraying multiple roles from his childhood. For more details on his body of work visit this link: Paul Capsis..
It was time for Paul to sit for an updated head shot, so he came to my studio. Usually when I shoot Paul, he undergoes a transformation into some other-worldly character, complete with makeup and costume. In the past, I have captured images of Paul as part of the various productions with which he has been involved, including as the cynical Emcee in the stage production of “Cabaret” (he was amazing in this role) and more recently, in the flamboyant role of Albin in David Hawkins’ Sydney production of “La Cage Aux Folles”. As a chameleon, Paul magically disappears into the skin of his different theatrical personas. This time we aimed to create a simple and more natural portrait of Paul, without makeup or any glitzy trappings. Paul Capsis “unplugged”, if you will.
We had a great time catching up during the photo-shoot. Shooting one-on-one, as in this situation, allowed us more time to reminisce and to have a chat. Normally, with a whole production attached, there is little time and since many more people are involved, you need to keep focused to get all the shots in the limited time-frame. Our recent shoot in my studio was far more relaxed.
Paul is an exciting performer who never sits still, so I can’t wait to see what professional challenge he will tackle next.
The fabulous Bek Jensen stepped into my studio recently to work on some images around a new album that she is about to release.
Bek is a talented singer/songwriter and from the age of 16 she has been working professionally as part of the Australian music scene. She comes from a very musical family with both parents also working as musicians….. so it’s no wonder that this enthusiasm has been passed on.
Bek has recorded and toured nationally with many of Australia’s iconic artists including Cold Chisel, Jimmy and Mahalia Barnes, Tina Harrod, The Sleepy Jackson, Paul McDermott, ALPHAMAMA, Morganics, Jackie Orszaczky and Clayton & Lachy Doley. She has released numerous original recordings, both signed and unsigned, under different guises.
There’s excitement in the air. Prinnie Stevens, Australian singer, performer and all-round entertainer extraordinaire is gracing the stage for brand new productions. She came to the studio with her team (hair, makeup and styling) to create new, vibrant imagery for upcoming shows as we all rocket out of lockdown. Her performance in “Sisters are doing it for themselves” begins at the Brisbane Powerhouse in February……see Link here
Prinnie shot to fame for her amazing performances as a contestant on “The Voice” and subsequently she has appeared in several major stage productions including Rent, Thriller Live, The Bodyguard, Hair and Oh, What a Night! and many other theatre, cabaret and television appearances. On her instagram bio, Stevens describes herself as “Polynesian RnB Soul Singer”.
Trevor Ashley, the Australian musical theatre actor, cabaret and drag artist based in Sydney, is continually inventing new characters and new looks.
Currently he has been working on the Drag Hag podcast and providing re-caps of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under (to see episode 4, click here).
At the studio Trevor posed under the lights showcasing a series of vibrant, extravagant and fun new alter egos with costumes by Frida Las Vegas, under the master touch of Daniel Cater (aka Dallas Dellaforce) who took care of hair, make-up and styling.
As a chameleon and from my experience of working with Trevor since the early 2000s, I never quite know who is going to be channeled on set…..Liza, Shirley, Edna or one of his brand new superstars.
Finally the announcement has been made, and I’m excited to post the latest from Prinnie Stevens. Her one woman cabaret show is being staged as part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival, 2021, and Prinnie will be performing at the Chamber at THE QUEENS from March 4-7.
Here’s what they say about LADY SINGS THE BLUES…..
A story about women in song, their hurts, struggles and pain whilst their beauty remains the same.
Featuring the songs of the greats such as Billie Holiday, Etta James, Nina Simone & Ella Fitzgerald along with the modern day voices of Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Beyonce and Sade you will be transported from the speak easy setting to the very heart of our Lady.
Prinnie as a woman of colour in Australia will tell these tales through her own eyes and experience.
We first met Prinnie on season one of The Voice where she battled best friend Mahalia Barnes and stopped Australia in it’s tracks. Prinnie then went on to star on the West End in Thriller Live in the UK as well performing in the Australasian Tour before returning to the stage back home in The Bodyguard and HAIR the Musical.
Well known for her roles in theatrical productions of Rent, Thriller Live, The Bodyguard and Oh, What a Night, for which she was nominated for a Helpmann Award, Prinnie rarely sits still. It was a pleasure to work with Prinnie, Joe and Drew on the day of the shoot last November. I wish her all the success in the world and look forward to seeing her perform in Adelaide. Tickets are on sale. Click the link.
It was a joy to photograph Samantha – performer, business strategist and motivational speaker – who is forever on the move. She is a great communicator with a vivacious energy and we had a fun afternoon shooting new imagery for her branding and corporate profile.
As Samantha says, “If you haven’t noticed, I’ve stopped listening to the ‘experts’ that tell you to only have one business. I happen to love and excel at being a multi passionate entrepreneur.” To find out more about Samantha visit her website here.
Performer, singer and finalist on Australia’s “The Voice”, Prinnie Stevens came by the studio to work on images for a brand new show.
Here are some behind-the-scenes shots of Prinnie getting ready with Joe and Drew doing hair and makeup. Stay tuned for further information about show dates and the release of the finished imagery from the shoot, highlighting the talents of Prinnie, well known for her roles in theatrical productions of Rent, Thriller Live, The Bodyguard and Oh, What a Night, for which she was nominated for a Helpmann Award.
Sydney was the original home of cabaret in Australia; it is an artform that is truly loved by all Australians. This year organisers decided to bring back the Sydney Cabaret Festival.
Trevor Ashley is the Festival’s Artistic Director. He assembled both International and Australian cabaret stars into a 9 day extravaganza of top class entertainment. Trevor states, “I have loved Cabaret as long as I can remember. As a confused child growing up I discovered this incredible artform that celebrated unique personalities, and more than that, an irreplaceable bond between artist and audience. Seeing artists like Lorrae Desmond, Julie Anthony and Geraldine Turner live, made me believe I could be anyone I wanted to be. It changed my life.”
The 2019 Sydney Cabaret Festival features Tony Award-winner Jennifer Holliday (pictured above), appearing for the first time on Australian soil, alongside local legends like Phil Scott and Jonathan Biggins, to New York downtown darling Natalie Joy Johnson. UK’s Frisky and Mannish return after a ten year hiatus, as does diva Alison Jiear. Tim Draxl will appear in a world premiere of his new show, along with Kim David Smith, Reuben Kaye and Brian Nash, plus circus and variety show Cheeky Cabaret, direct from their home in Brunswick Heads. Tim Benzie returns to Sydney with Solve-Along-A-Murder-She-Wrote. The Festival also includes a cabaret for children, Petit Cabaret, and masterclasses with Jennifer Holliday and Alison Jiear, as well as the Grand Final of the restored Sydney Cabaret Competition.
I was the Festival’s Photographer and had the pleasure of photographing and documenting most of the action. The following is a brief visual overview of how I spent my time.
Jennifer Holliday – Headlines the Festival
Opening Night at the City Recital Hall
The solo Performances
The Seymour Centre was transformed into the Cabaret Hub with solo performances simultaneously running in 5 separate performance spaces. There was a great buzz of excitement and anticipation as the audiences crowded to attend each show. I ran from theatre to theatre capturing the action. Here’s a visual overview…..
Cabaret Competition Grand Final
Australia’s next generation of cabaret superstars launched their careers at The Sydney Cabaret Competition: Grand Final hosted by ‘International Queen of Cabaret’ Trevor Ashley.
9 entertainers were selected as finalists (Nyssa Milligan, Irene Nicaola, Katelin Koprivec, Sarah Murr, Naomi Livingston, Rachael Gillfeather, Ali Calder, Billie Palin and Clare Ellen O’Connor), each performed their own short cabaret shows. The judges then selected the 2019 winner.
Congratulations to the runner up – Clare Ellen O’Conner with her show Plucked! and the Audience Choice and Winner – Billie Palin, for her incredible performance in ‘From Dubbo to Death’.
Born out of the sleepy, picturesque village of Brunswick Heads on the north coast of NSW, birthed at the Brunswick Picture House, comes “Cheeky Cabaret”. Full of many flavours…..other than vanilla and very entertaining, Cheeky Cabaret ran for the entire length of the Festival in the Valhalla Room at the Seymour Centre.
Frisky and Hammish
Master Class with Jennifer Holliday
Kim David Smith
Nathalie Joy Johnson
Phil Scott & Jonathan Biggins
Toni Lamond and the Finale
The Piano Bar
The Piano Bar was a popular venue, nestled in the Seymour Centre’s Festival hub. Each night heralded a plethora of pop-up performances from various artists.
The Sydney International Cabaret Festival was a big success and will be now on the Sydney cultural horizon….so watch out for it next year and don’t miss seeing a few of the performers in next years line-up.
It’s half way through the year already and I have no idea where the time has gone.
I am embracing the fact that there is only 6 months to go until Santa comes again and looking forward to the next 6 months of interesting challenges and achievements.
Here’s a quick summary of some of the highlights from the month of June…..
George Michael – Listen to your heart
I was asked to cover the George Michael tribute concert at the Opera House Concert Hall on Sunday 8 June. It was truly fabulous. I mean you can’t go wrong with a 35 piece orchestra, some of Australia’s best voices and the classic beauty of George Michael’s exquisite writing. Casey Donovan, Rob Mills, Hugh Sheridan, Andrew De Silva, Bobby Fox and Sheldon Riley were lead by the orchestra leader, John Foreman. The crowd was as diverse as George’s musical career, spanning all age groups and demographics. They were united in their enjoyment of what was coming from the stage. Here are a few pics….
James Squires Landing
I enjoyed shooting for Xenia Contructions at the Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay. What a superb locaton. I shot in the early morning to catch the best light and avoid some of the foot traffic in that area. Seeing the sun rise over the Opera House was golden. Vivid was on at the time, so I managed to get a few shots with the Vivid light show in the background. Here are some examples.
Trevor Ashley smashes it again!
I love working with this talented and intelligent artist. Trevor Ashley is well known in the entertainment industry for his many portrayals of famous woman such as Liza Minelli and Shirley Bassey, musical theatre roles such as Miss Understanding in the original cast of Priscilla, Queen of the desert and Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, Thernadier in Les Miserables, many cabaret performances….and heaps of other things…if you want a better bio, head to wikipedia and search Trevor Ashley. I can’t do him justice here.
I have shot many incarnations of Trevor over the years….I love working with him because he makes things seem easy. They are only easy because this man is a conceptual genius and enjoys what he does.
You know you’re in for a fun shoot when you have Rhonda Burchmore and Lara Mulcahy (mega-stars and mega-nice people) coming to the studio to work on a few new shots for their brilliant show, Abba-solutely Fabulous.
We originally met last year to shoot for this new show (Rhonda and Lara were both in the original cast of Mamma Mia)….and now it has become bigger than Ben Hur, packed houses all over Australia, and they need more images to continue the promotion machine.
Apparently the show is fabulously funny and entertaining and I am looking forward to seeing it when it next comes to Sydney. Have a look at the programming and see if they are appearing near you, because I know they would be delightful to see.Click here for dates etc.
Look at the “teaser” below and tell me you’re not going to have a good time with these two lovely larakins.
Shauna’s new look
I always love shooting the gorgeous Shauna Jensen…amazing vocalist with a long and impressive career in the entertainment industry….again look her up in wikipedia, Shauna Jensen for the full bio….or go and see her next performance.
Shauna has a new look and here’s a sneak preview from the shoot we did together, earlier this month.
I have been shooting for a group of young people who meet once a month, in an open forum, to discuss various “taboo” subjects. The images from the nights are used in their social media to promote future “Taboo Talks”. Taboo Talks are the brain child of a couple of social workers, Amirah and Kosta and have been running for a good 18 months, discussing diverse subjects, frrom domestic violence to racism and everything in between. The idea is to create a safe space where people feel free to share ideas and experiences with each other on a given subject. A new topic is chosen each month and the discussion is headed and administered by nominated facilitators. If you wish to know more they have a facebook page which you are welcome to visit.
The Wild Sculptural Interpretations of Margarita Sampson – Honey Funus
I have been shooting for Margarita for some years now and I am always pleasantly surprised with what she comes up with. I know that when she rings to book photography that I am going to encounter the next wonderfully weird, beautiful and strangely animated, creature she has given birth to.
This month was no exception. I met “Honey Fungus” in all it’s glory of gaping orange deliciousness. Honey Fungus’ friend looks a bit overwhelmed, I must say. I always enjoy getting to know her little creatures as I click away. For a look at more of Margarita’s work, click here.
Hansen Yuncken together with Waterways are really stepping up the pace on the wharf up-grade roll-outs. I shot another wharf this month. The Abbotsford Wharf up-grade was opened to the public…so I ventured along the Parramatta River to an idyllic location for a ferry terminal at the end of Great North Road. I really like the design of these new wharfs….in my opinion they look slick. Here’s a few shots from the shoot….
Well there’s a few highlights from my month. Please get in touch if you have any questions or queries on firstname.lastname@example.org