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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 23, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 04
Dame Edna's (Fair) Farewell
Arts & Entertainment
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Dame Edna's (Fair) Farewell

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

DAME EDNA EVERAGE
'GLORIOUS GOODBYE:
THE FAREWELL TOUR'
THE MOORE THEATRE
January 15


Dame Edna Everage's 'Glorious Goodbye: The Farewell Tour' was launched on January 15 at Seattle's Moore Theatre. The alternative persona of Australian actor Barry Humphries, Dame Edna is the self-declared Gigastar of the millenium. And after a triumphant tour in the United Kingdom, she has brought (what is promised to be) her final tour to the United States.

Edna's first appearance was in the 1950s when comedian Barry Humphries was touring with an improvisational/drama troupe of actors. He created Ms. Everage (a play on the word average) as a flamboyant typical Australian housewife complete with mauve hair, sequined glasses, and a wardrobe of fantastical wearables. Humphries, assuming role as manager for Edna, created an entire backstory including: birth in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, a longtime companion/bridesmaid named Madge, a much older (now deceased) husband named Norm (suffering from an angry prostate situation), and four children - the most notorious being her son Kenny, designer of all of her outrageous outfits. Dame Edna has been traveling and socializing with the well-to-do and (in)famous ever since, performing on stage and hosting an internationally syndicated television talk show program. And at age 80, the outrageous Dame is traveling on her (alleged) retirement tour.

The problem with having such an illustrious career is that the audience becomes a little too familiar with the act, especially when very little has changed over the last ten years. The grand Dame is always outrageous and funny but the proverbial chickens of her long career have finally come home to roost, and it shows. She once bounced about the stage like a ball of mauve and sequins, but now remains more centered and stationary as her octogenarian age catches up to her. The show bares much repetition from previous performances with little variance. She engages with the audience delightfully, but what was once hysterical banter of commentary and critique now seems to have moved to the more mean-spirited type of humorous interaction. The Dame picks on several audience members including an older man she calls the 'Senior,' and audience members of the higher up theater balcony referred to as 'Paupers' or 'Mezzies' in reference to Les Miserables. Those of us who have seen Edna's show before&have seen the show before.

Don't misunderstand me: You WILL laugh aloud during Dame Edna's performance! And if this is your first exposure to the Dame, then bring along an extra pair of underwear. Edna is excellent about making local cultural references including saying that Mayor Murray was a (presumed) 'friend' of her son, Kenny; a euphemism her fans are well acquainted with. Her wit is still as sharp as she improvises along with her audience in playful banter, and includes her signature waving of gladdies - what's a Dame Edna performance without gladiolas flying through the air?

There are the traditional, tried and true situations that we have come to love about Dame Edna. She pulls two very different audience members and conducts a 'mock wedding' on stage. Then proceeds to call (on microphoned speaker) friends and/or family of the 'happy couple' to personally announce the nuptials. She speaks of her children - Lois, who was kidnapped as an infant by koalas; Valmai, the dysfunctional daughter often accompanying her on stage - and, of course, the Dame tells several stories of her [favorite] child, her son Kenny - designer of all of Dame Edna's fabulous frocks.

There are five people assisting the glorious Dame on her final farewell tour. Four backup dancers (Ralph Coppola, Brooke Pascoe, Eve Prideaux, and Armando Yearwood, Jr) shuffle about the Dame, adding dance and movement to an otherwise stationary performance. The dancers didn't appear quite in synch with each other nor did they seem 100% clear of what it was they were supposed to do. During a couple of audience interactions, two dancers held onto Dame Edna's elbows to keep her from toppling into the front rows. The Musical Director & Onstage Accompanist Jonathan Tessero did double duty as pianist during the five songs Dame Enda sang and he remained on-stage at the piano during the entire performance. It was almost more amusing to watch his facial expressions react to what must be a very familiar production.

If you have seen performances of the glorious Dame at any time during her illustrious career, the show may have more of a nostalgic humor effect than knee-slapping guffaws. If you've never had the extravagant experience of exposure to Dame Edna Everage, then check her out on YouTube or on DVD. She should be experienced - at least once - by everyone.

Either way - we bid a fond farewell to the Great Dame Edna Everage!

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