Tuesday, March 09, 2010

"That's Your Funeral" Barry Humphries ("Dame Edna")

"I'm lactating," Dame Edna tells the audience. "I can share that with you. Not many actresses would. Angela Lansbury wouldn't tell you she's lactating, would she?" Angela also wouldn't confide that she dated New York's embattled Governor David Paterson ("We met at Yankee Stadium...I bought my tickets...") or smilingly skewer the people in the balcony seats by calling them "paupers."

Dame Edna is back on Broadway in "All About Me." The wispy plot is that both she and cabaret pianist/singer Michael Feinstein have accidentally booked the same theater, and have become instant rivals in claiming the stage for themselves.

Michael sings a few songs. Dame Edna has him literally hauled off by a pair of muscular gay dancers so she can start her monologue. Fifteen minutes later, Feinstein storms the stage with a dyke stage manager, and he and Dame Edna duel wits and songs to see who can win over the crowd. Will it be Michael, singing a classic like "What Kind of Fool Am I," or Dame Edna offering an original called "The Dingo Ate Your Baby"?

At one point, Feinstein claims the piano, but Dame Edna almost literally squats on it, and as she grimaces, rolls along the top, and tries desperately to get to her feet, you might just find yourself thinking, as I did, "Now wait a minute, how old IS Dame Edna?? Things are getting a bit strenuous for this grand old comedy star!"

Especially if you also know that Dame Edna, aka Barry Humphries, first appeared on Broadway back in 1963!

It isn't nice to tell a lady's age, even if it's a man dressed up as one, but it did get me thinking about the very first time most people ever saw Mr. Humphries. He was playing Mr. Sowerberry in "Oliver!" first in the original London production (1960) and then when the show came to Broadway in 1963. Your download? "That's Your Funeral," a highlight number from the show, although it was cut from the American original cast recording. Oh...and the Artful Dodger back then was played by Davy Jones, soon to be one of The Monkees.

More trivia: in 1967, Barry played Fagin himself, in a Piccadilly Theatre revival of the show. The Artful Dodger was played by...Phil Collins! In 1997 Barry was again cast as Fagin in the new Cameron Mackintosh revival of "Oliver!" at the London Palladium.

If you plan on taking in a Broadway show from now till some time in June, you'll have a great time with "All About Me," despite Michael Feinstein singing "My Romance" and looking a bit like a weird cross between Paul Anka and Jimmy Fallon. Dame Edna's 40+ minutes of solo comedy, ad-libs and innuendo hurled at her not-so-straight man, more than give you your money's worth. Especially if you got your ticket via TDF discount.
[UPDATE: the show closed after a few weeks due to indifferent reviews. Critics loved Dame Edna but were not overly impressed with Feinstein or what passed for a plot. No doubt a solo Dame Edna show at a smaller venue would've been the wiser choice].

And so, by way of tribute to the very much alive, well, and looking very good for her age Dame Edna, here's Barry Humphries doing "That's Your Funeral," as he did it on Broadway 47 years ago! Don't miss this download, or "All About Me." If you do, well, that's your funeral.

THATS YOUR FUNERAL Instant download or listen on line. No pop-ups, porn-ads, or Rabid share wait time.

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