Ashley has been involved with musical theatre as an audience member since his grandmother took him, aged three, to a pantomime at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Leaving more of an impression was the children's musical The Dandy Lion which he saw when he was five.
His first performance was in the first grade, playing one of the many children of the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe in Carnival Capers at Daniel Woodward Elementary School, Richmond BC; Ashley was quite put-out that he and his "siblings" were brought on stage only for the final number, and were told not to sing along. In second grade he was fortunate enough to be allowed into the "pit" to sing at Richmond High School's Revue '73, and made his singing debut in the same program doing "Look to the Rainbow" from Finian's Rainbow as a duet.
Ashley began writing professionally when he was 16, with a travel article for Western Living, then a series of art and design articles for Victoria's Monday Magazine. His first play to receive a production was Taming the Broken Fingernail, a well-received entry in the 1988 Victoria Fringe Festival.
In June of 1998, the Salt Spring Centre School became the first organization to produce one of Ashley's musicals, the children's show Rumpelstiltskin's Children, later revised and presented again December 1999. In November of 1998, Once Upon a Theatre gave Vancouver audiences a first look at Ashley's musical talent, when Beyond the Meadow debuted at the Arts Club Mainstage in a riveting concert production. He has since written and directed two more musicals, Beautiful: The Romance of Cupid & Psyche, and In Pursuit of Porridge.
Ashley is still an avid actor and singer; outside of his own musicals, his favourite roles include Jack in Into the Woods, John Jasper in Drood, and Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. He has also appeared in several Applause! Musicals productions, and played "Harry Witherspoon" in Triptych Theatrical's Lucky Stiff.
Since 1999, Ashley has also been directing The Broadway Chorus, presenting fun-filled, action-packed revues of song and dance twice a year. And, during the day, he works at UBC as a senior analyst in the Planning and Institutional Research office.