Michael Feinstein, Dame Edna Share 'All About Me'

Michael Feinstein, Dame Edna i i

Famed Australian entertainer Dame Edna Everage is back on Broadway alongside American song stylist Michael Feinstein in All About Me, a variety show whose sequin-heavy style and big-band sound recall the extravaganzas of the 1960s. Joan Marcus hide caption

itoggle caption Joan Marcus
Michael Feinstein, Dame Edna

Famed Australian entertainer Dame Edna Everage is back on Broadway alongside American song stylist Michael Feinstein in All About Me, a variety show whose sequin-heavy style and big-band sound recall the extravaganzas of the 1960s.

Joan Marcus

Michael Feinstein is a winsome, perennially boyish crooner of the Great American Songbook. Dame Edna Everage is a lavender-haired Australian drag artist with a sharp, often politically incorrect tongue. So what are the two of them doing working together? It's a question Dame Edna — who sometimes bears an uncanny resemblance to actor Barry Humphries — has been asking herself.

"It was proposed about a year ago that we might do a little show together," says the Dame, lounging on a sofa in Feinstein's dressing room backstage at Broadway's Henry Miller Theatre. "And I think it was Michael who said, 'Impossible! We're so different. We're like oil and water.' I remember those words. And they stung me a little, because I thought, 'Am I oil, or am I water?' "

Indelible Moments From 'All About Me'

And yet the two do indeed mix it up in All About Me, their new show at the Henry Miller. With a script by playwright Christopher Durang (Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You) and direction by Casey Nicholaw (The Drowsy Chaperone), the plot — such as it is — has Feinstein and Dame Edna accidentally booked into the same Broadway theater on the same night. After much tussling, the two performers decide to make the best of it and do a variety show together.

But if All About Me harks back to the TV variety shows of the 1960s, with its 12-piece big band and its glitzy set, Dame Edna insists it's anything but old-fashioned.

"This is a cutting-edge show," she says. "It's cool, it's hip, it's a gas."

Dame Edna i i

The personage who would become Dame Edna made her first appearance in the 1950s, but it wasn't until the 1970s and '80s, when among other things she starred in the BBC mockumentary La Dame aux Gladiolas, that she truly became the international megastar we know today. Joan Marcus hide caption

itoggle caption Joan Marcus
Dame Edna

The personage who would become Dame Edna made her first appearance in the 1950s, but it wasn't until the 1970s and '80s, when among other things she starred in the BBC mockumentary La Dame aux Gladiolas, that she truly became the international megastar we know today.

Joan Marcus

"It is true that Edna does sing some very contemporary material in the show," Feinstein concurs. And really, he insists, she does it "very, very well."

(You may wish to judge for yourselves, of course.)

Not only does Dame Edna sing — and dance to — Beyonce's hit "Single Ladies," she gets to show off a selection from the Great Australian Songbook, a volume she admits is "almost wafer thin."

"Well, there's 'Waltzing Matilda,' which is our iconic song," says the Dame. But the pickings get slim in the songbook after that. There are "advertisements on Page 2 and halfway down Page 3," she admits, "and on Page 7."

But squeezed in between, she says, there are some "immortal ditties" like "Tie Me Kangaroo Down" and "Rum and Coca Koala."

"But the most popular song in Australia at the moment," says Dame Edna, "is called 'The Dingo Ate My Baby.' " While Feinstein plays the accompaniment, Dame Edna heaves the impressive edifice that is her figure onto his Steinway, wearing a long purple dress and a feather boa, and sings:

The dingo ate my baby
It wasn't a horrible hoax
I don't care what they say
At the ASPCA
I hope that nasty dingo chokes
So if you are nursing a baby
Remember the peril is real
What looks to you and your hubby
Like a toddler so pink and so chubby
Is a dingo's favorite meal!

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.