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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
ALL ABOUT ME
at Henry Miller’s Theatre

A STAGE TOO SMALL
By BILL STEVENSON


A variety show/musical revue with a gimmicky premise, All About Me shoehorns two wildly different performers (Dame Edna Everage, the drag creation of Australian Barry Humphries, and cabaret crooner Michael Feinstein) into one Broadway show. The result is uneven: at times quite funny, at other times musically engaging, but never entirely satisfying. The two stars spend much of the time singing and/or cracking jokes on their own; when they finally join forces it’s a bizarre mash-up of an earnest, old-school singer-pianist and a purple-haired self-proclaimed megastar.
 
The gimmick is that each star thinks that he/she is doing a solo show at the almost-new Henry Miller Theater. (Yes, Edna ridicules the Roundabout’s short-lived Bye-Bye Birdie.) After a clever overture, Feinstein starts things off by singing Broadway standards accompanied by an onstage orchestra. He also displays his skills at the piano and talks about his favorite composers (the Gershwins, Cole Porter and others). It’s pretty much his usual routine, only on a larger scale than a cabaret.
 
Just when one begins to wonder when Dame Edna will show up, she makes a grand entrance at the end of “The Lady Is a Tramp.” Glammed up in a sequined pink gown and her trademark sequined glasses, Dame Edna towers over Feinstein. The two argue about whose show it really is, and then Edna has Feinstein removed by a pair of bodyguards (who later double as backup dancers).
 
Edna is in fine comic form, especially when recounting her adoption of a baby from the Republic of Chlamydia. “I got her from the same village where Madonna shops for hers,” she says. Humphries has no trouble coming up with new zingers for Edna, and this time he has help from the show’s co-writer, Christopher Durang. The director is Casey Nicholaw (The Drowsy Chaperone), who keeps the 90-minute show moving right along. For those of us who love Dame Edna, it’s a bit frustrating that she doesn’t get to hold court longer. Fortunately, she does find time to pick on several audience members in the front rows. She claims to be “empowering” those she singles out for their unfortunate wardrobes or the bad habit of reading the program instead of watching her. Whether brandishing her quick wit or making her trademark grimace, Dame Edna is as outrageously funny as ever. She even has the nerve to mock Stephen Sondheim—and then does an uproarious rendition of “The Ladies Who Lunch.”
 
An even more surprising musical highlight comes when Jodi Capeless, who plays a frazzled stage manager, belts a rousing “And the World Goes ’Round.”
 
When Feinstein gets another turn in the spotlight, his talk about “the American songbook” seems too serious in the context of the otherwise light and frothy show. And his singing can be too showy, especially when he builds to a song’s big finish. He turns down the volume, however, when he and Edna do a fast-paced medley that includes everything from Gershwin to "The Golden Girls." Finally, Feinstein, Edna and the other cast members throw gladiolas into the audience while singing “The Gladdy Song”  (co-written by Feinstein and Humphries).
 
All About Me doesn’t smoothly merge Feinstein’s musical bravado with Dame Edna’s brash, barbed comedy, but fans of either performer will still find plenty to enjoy.
 


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