Little Orphan trAshley (review)

Trashley_Prudence Upton

After a sell-out season at the Sydney Opera House last year, Little Orphan trAshley has packed her suitcase and headed down the Princess Highway to Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre for this adults-only pantomime.

Trevor Ashley plays 10 year old Fannie, a bouncy little redhead currently incarcerated at the Sutherland Shire orphanage for talented children run by washed-up gin-soaked trouper Miss Trannigan (Rhonda Burchmore). But Fanny has a secret. To get her gender reassignment surgery she needs the permission of both her birth parents.

With the help of multi-millionaire acclaimed photographer Daddy Warhorse (Gary Sweet), who will make every inch of her famous, and her trusty and ever slightly promiscuous ex-sniffer dog Bullshit (Rhys Bobridge), Fannie sets out on her quest to discover who her parents and get that all important surgery.

Highly irreverent and richly satirical, Little Orphan trAshley has the right blend of risqué humour and social commentary (read cheap shots) liberally supplied by writer Phil Scott.

With more than one reference to the legal issues brought on by the creators of a similar show with an annoying orphan in the lead role (it wasn’t ‘Oliver Twist’), nothing is sacred. Those lined-up in their sights are fair game, Alan Jones, Bill Henson and a certain reality tv show claiming to be ‘The Voice’.

Ashley is a vaudevillian love child, who reads his audience well, singing and dancing his way through a juke-box of contemporary and music theatre standards.

He is ably supported by Coral Mercer-Jones and Tina Jackson as his perky backing singers playing a myriad of characters, an affable Gary Sweet doubling as the Narrator and Warhorse, while Rhys Bobridge gets his moments to shine in nothing more than a harness and cod-piece.

Craig Ilott’s direction keeps things moving at a moderate pace, while Michael Tyack leads a small on-stage band who provide a well-balanced sound.

While Ashley is the star, it is ultimately Burchmore who threatens to steal the limelight with a wardrobe of gorgeous frocks, her sultry tones and buckets of self-deprecating humour, not to mention gin.

Little Orphan trAshley is not for everyone, but you’ll be guaranteed a night of ribald hilarity – and remember, leave the kiddies at home!

Little Orphan trAshely
Comedy Theatre – Exhibition St, Melbourne
Season continues to 14 July 2013
Bookings: 1300 660 013 or online at:

Image: Rhys Bobridge, Trevor Ashley & Rhonda Burchmore (photo by Prudence Upton)