Regional Reviews: Seattle
Dame Edna Back With a Vengeance
Also see David's review of Girl of My Dreams
Seattle's Moore Theatre is one of the few historic theaters left in our fair city. Its faded décor and fairly uncomfortable seats are a fair cry from the restored elegance and comfort of its sister venue, the Paramount. But what better place for an equally historic diva, namely Dame Edna Everage (Veteran Aussie actor Barry Humphries devised the character and writes the very loose script) to hold court. In Dame Edna Back With a Vengeance she holds a willing crowd in the palm of her regal hands, and the laughs don't let up for the whole two hours plus intermission show.
Ably backed up by game and attractive singer/dancers Teri Digianfelice and Michelle Pampena, and accomplished music director/pianist Wayne Barker, Dame Edna is in even better form this tour than her last. Whether making fun of her less-than-posh Seattle theatre digs at the "historic" Moore, singing in the voice of an Australian moose in heat, dancing with less feminine grace or technique than Harvey Fierstein in Hairspray, or teasing her audience ("I was worried about coming out here tonight. I didn't think I'd like you!"), there is nothing like this Dame. Early in the show she warbles "It's All About You," but in Dame Edna's world it's really all about her, and what she does to us.
High points of this tour are the disco-era tinged title song which Dame Edna growls her way through with relish, and the couple brought up onstage for marriage counseling and then forced to call one of their mothers (this bit was a real howler on opening night). Best of all, Dame Edna has written an autobiographical play about her rise from simple housewife to mega-star, and casts several more audience members to play her maid of honor, incontinent husband, doddering Mum, butch daughter, and gay leatherman son. This group on opening night did themselves proud sight reading their lines, and one particular misreading (which was actually a stage direction and not an actual line) cracked up Dame Edna herself for a good bit.
As ever, Dame Edna's costumes by Stephen Adnitt and Will Goodwin are triumphs in their sheer lack of restraint, especially a rainbow ensemble in act two. Lighting designer Jane Cox keeps things bright and cheery, adding a few zany twists along the way, and Dan Scheivert's sound design keeps Edna's volume high, if somewhat muddy at times, which is probably owing to the Moore's vintage acoustics.
It's been two years since Dame Edna graced the stage of the Moore. With this very limited run, you might want to snap up tickets immediately for Dame Edna Back With A Vengeance. That is, unless you find laughter or prostate jokes dangerous to your health.
Dame Edna Back With A Vengeance plays through March 26 at the Moore, 1932 Second Avenue in downtown Seattle. For more information, visit www.themoore.com.
Photo: Greg Gorman- David-Edward Hughes