What has purple hair, dancing flowers, and a zillion laughs? The limited engagement production of DAME EDNA: ‘‘My first last tour’’ now showing at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre.
If you have never seen Dame Edna before, make sure you get to the Ahmanson in the next two weeks for this fun-filled show that elicits non-stop yucks from a packed house.
The show starts with a brief video, introducing the birth of Dame Edna. Even as a baby, she had her trademark glasses. We are also treated to shots of her growing up, through adolescence and marriage, and then to her living in a cave with Osama Bin Laden! But this is all just a warm-up for the real live fun to come when Dame Edna steps out on stage.
The beginning of her act has amusing patter and a song, but the main part of the evening is her conversation with the audience. The Aussie Grand Dame picks a quartet of unsuspecting ladies in the audience and engages in a barrage of questions to each. As they answer, sometimes reluctantly, Edna comments, resulting in the selected woman’s giddy embarrassment and the audience’s continued howls. It’s all a delightful hoot and the spontaneity of it means that every night, the show will be a little different.
The audience is with her all the way – including those in the balconies, who she refers to as ‘‘Mexican fruit bats’’ and those in the side boxes, or as she calls them, ‘‘ash trays.’’ Edna is an equal-opportunity barb thrower; she makes fun of celebs, Los Angeles, gays, and seniors. Her song about her son Kenny is hilarious, and her bit on taking a senior on a cruise vacation is a comedic gem.
Andrew Ross plays the piano for the performance and Erin-Kate Whitcomb joins Dame Edna on stage for a brief appearance as her daughter, Valmai. The show ends with Edna tossing her trademark gladiolas out to the audience, for a rousing group wave to music by rows of trembling gladdies.
Dame Edna is actually Australian character actor Barry Humphries, who created and devised her some 50 years ago. At the end of the evening, Barry comes out as himself, to a well-deserved standing ovation.
For one performer to be so engaging in such a huge venue is an amazing feat – but to do it in drag and for 50 years – is true brilliance. If you want an evening out of pure fun and guaranteed laughter, get your tickets now. The show closes June 21st.
June 9 - 21, 2009
Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center
135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012