Look up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
Well, yes and no. It's DAME EDNA circling the globe in her Air Edna helicopter, and waving
back madly to Queen Elizabeth II, President Clinton, and the Pope. Now it's the Bay Area's
turn to salute the wacky but wonderful dame as she kicks off "The Royal Tour" at
that quaint habitue in San Francisco called the Theatre On The Square. Of course, Dame
Edna Everage is really Australian writer and creator Barry Humphries, but as Joe E. Brown
said to Jack Lemmon in SOME LIKE IT HOT, "Nobody's perfect."
"HELLO POSSUMS!" she calls out in that endearing, warbling falsetto. Admirers
stomp, whistle, and applaud during the two and one-half hour show that gives us that
old-fashioned kick Cole Porter once wrote about.
"I'M REAL!" Dame Edna trills as she sashays around the Kenneth Foy set that has
a twinge of faux Las Vegas. She waves her trademark gladiolas and smiles like the
housewife she is. Maybe that's why we hardly notice the pianist, the popular Billy
Philadelphia, who seems superfluous once the energetic star begins to assault our funny
bones. Add her larger than life glasses skittering with rhinestones, and there's Dame Edna
making a spec-tacle of herself.
And we're just getting warmed up, POSSUMS. Wait until you see that knockout wardrobe
designed by Stephen Adnitt! It begins with a shimmering sky blue cloak, followed by a
sparkling purple and blue gown that ends in a feathered trim. The rest is pure Edna from
the hair -- white rose poofed up just in time for the 1960s, to the jewels - presumably a
gift from Harry Winston of Flushing, New York.
"FEEL ME!" she cajoles to the people in the front. "I'M REAL!" she
repeats. A final shout -- "LOOK AT ME WHEN I'M TALKING!" Frankly, it's hard not
to. Scanning the crowd, she sees what she's looking for. "You, yes YOU! The lady with
that (pauses) interesting outfit. What's your name?" The voice crackles back.
"Judy." Edna waits. "Is that Judy with a 'y'?"
In the program's second half, the entertainer reveals her Dietrich-like legs as she
prances in wearing a fiery red gown slit up to here. Say what you want about Marlene, but
Edna has the advantage: She's very much alive. So are those unsuspecting participants
called on stage to "perform" and then rewarded with a nutty gift. Take the
bottle of Nivea. "I know," Edna says, revealing that customary droll smirk.
"Too little, too late
But I mean this in a caring, nurturing way."
Polaroid's are popped and everyone's jumping around, including the megastar whose
infectious personality and daffy laugh are still winning audiences after more than forty
So now POSSUMS. Get ready for the quiz. What's THE ROYAL TOUR about? It's about two and
one half-hours of Edna flitting from subjects ranging from her son Kenny who lives in the
Castro ("which I assume is a Cuban ghetto"), Ken Starr (his wife wants to know
why he doesn't "probe" more at home) to Hillary ("If only he had lipstick
on his collar
"). The beauty of the show is that there are no four-letter words.
Only ha-ha's. They start as Mini-Ha-Ha's (a little Indian tribe to which your Maven once
belonged), and then graduate to real HA- HA'S.
What can Dame Edna do for an encore? You must be joking. Bring on the gladiolas!
Scattering them about the theatre, she ends by flinging some to the "paupers" in
the balcony. Suddenly everyone is standing and singing some dotty tune along with her,
shaking their glads, and hoping for more. Dame Edna doesn't disappoint. "I received a
call from the Queen of England who asked me to bring her a souvenir," she confides.
"'I WANT AMERICA BACK!'" was the royal message. Too late, your majesty. Edna's
The Royal Tour plays at:
Theatre On The Square
450 Post Street
With love & knishes from your Show Biz Maven.
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- Web: http://www.i.am/lindamarie