We are reassured right up front, in a boxed statement on the title page of the Playbill for Dame Edna: The Royal Tour - opening tonight at the Booth Theatre - that "This lovely program contains no marsupial products."
We are also informed that, while "understudies or standbys never substitute for listed players unless a specific announcement for the appearance is made at the time of the performance," should something dreadful happen to the one and only Dame Edna Everage (aka Barry Humphries), we would be in the hands of one Mrs. Madge Allsop. For longtime fans of the incorrigible Dame Edna, who are all too well aware of the place Mrs. Allsop holds in the pantheon of characters created by Humphries, this is not a bit of news to be greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm. So it is with some sense of relief, not to mention euphoria, that after we are treated to a short set of film clips chronicling Dame Edna's ascension from Australian housewife to fame, fortune, and icon-hood, the curtain rises to reveal the legend herself.
This is the defining image of the evening, this first sight of the Dame with her arms thrown wide, embracing the audience with aggressive self-confidence and in complete control of the moment. It's also an inspired bit of theatre. In these first few seconds, in which she makes her way down the rather overly extravagant white staircase to the foot of the stage, she has the audience in the palm of her hand.
The wonderful thing about Dame Edna is that she does not disappoint, she lives up to all the hype - and then some. We were very skeptical going in, having been told by far too many people that "Dame Edna is the funniest woman on earth," that "you'll laugh until your sides hurt," and that "Dame Edna is the most gloriously funny show I've seen on Broadway in my life!"
Well, Possums, it's all true.
On reflection, it's easy to understand why she has this effect on us. Underneath the Dame's besequined motley is Barry Humphries, a performer of talent - dare we say genius? - who has perfected over the last four decades the ideal contemporary incarnation of Shakespeare's great fools, the jester at court who dares ridicule the king. Of course, these days the barbs are aimed directly at the Politically Correct, the Socially Appropriate, and the Culturally Benign. And, true, the jokes themselves are old enough to predate Shakespeare himself, but in Humphries' trustworthy hands the Dame's running commentary on our lives glitters and sparkles even as it draws blood.
Were it necessary, we would direct you to march smartly to the Box Office at the Booth Theatre and procure at whatever cost the first available tickets for yourself and your loved ones. But, you were already planning to do that, weren't you? So, we'll leave you with the observation that Dame Edna: The Royal Tour is a show perhaps best appreciated on its second or third viewing.
Dame Edna: The Royal Tour devised and written by Barry Humphries. Additional material by Ian Davidson. With the fingers of Andrew Ross on keyboards. And introducing The Gorgeous Ednaettes, Roxane Barlow and Tamlyn Brooke Shusterman. Scenic design by Kenneth Foy. Costume design by Stephen Adnitt. Lighting design by Jason Kantrowitz. Sound design by Peter Fitzgerald.
Theatre: Booth Theatre 222 West 45th Street New York, NY 10036 (between Broadway & 8th Avenue)
Running Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes, including one 15 minute intermission.
Schedule: Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 3 PM. Added Performances Friday 11/26 at 2 PM, Sunday 12/26 at 7 PM, and Monday 12/27 at 8 PM. No Performances Thursday 11/25, Friday 12/24, and Friday 12/31.
Audience: May be appropriate for children 4 and older. Children under 4 are not permitted in the theatre. There is no foul language, however there is sophisticated humor which may not be understood by small children. Parental discretion advised. Please note: Dame Edna will be calling people up from the audience to participate on stage. People are usually chosen from the center Orchestra, within the first 5 rows.
Ticket prices: $60 & $45
Standing Room: Available at the Box Office only, when the performance is sold out.
Tickets online: https://www.telecharge.com/
Tickets by Phone: Tele-charge: (212) 239-6200, or outside the NY metro area (800) 545-2559, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Tickets in Person: Box Office Hours Monday through Saturday 10 AM to 8 PM, Sunday: Noon to 6 PM.
Tickets by Snail Mail: Dame Edna: The Royal Tour, PO Box 998, Times Square Station, New York, NY 10108-0998
Tickets by E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org