Due to a friend booking her Hawaiian vacation at the same time as her ticket to see Dame Edna’s Farewell Tour, I got to see the show instead of her. Held at the Moore Theatre, I sat in a good seat. A really good seat. If I were one row closer, I might have caught a gladiolus at the end of the night.
In order to see my first (and last) Dame Edna show, I had to endure rain, and not the usual drizzly crap that passes as rain in Seattle. This was umbrella-worthy galoshes-wearing rain. I almost said, “Screw it,” and stayed home, but I’m glad I didn’t.
The crowd was a mix of old and young, gay and straight, rich and poor, men and women, men dressed as women, and women…actually, they were pretty much dressed as women. To my right were two men, the one next to me wearing blue eyeliner and a dress. On my left sat a male couple. They were dressed as men.
The show ran two hours with an intermission. It began with a dance number that included Dame Edna and four dancers (Ralph Coppola, Brooke Pascoe, Eve Prideaux, and Armando Yearwood, Jr., who looked like they stepped out of A Chorus Line), followed by an E! True Hollywood Story style exposé on Dame Edna’s life, shown on a screen framed by her trademark glasses. Then she came out, denouncing it all as lies, before launching into stand-up, in which she picked on members of the audience. For this section of the show, she was joined onstage by a piano and her accompanist, Jonathan Tessero. Some of the highlights:
- She looked up at the balcony and made fun of the people sitting there for not having enough money to sit on the main floor. She also said, “I will glance at you throughout the night, but only in direct proportion to how much you paid.”
- She made fun of an old man in the audience, calling him “senior.” She thought better of him, however, when — during the second half of the show — she asked him what his favorite sedative is, and he said, “Scotch.” “He might have more of his faculties than I thought,” she replied.
- She picked on four women in the audience, asking what they did for a living and making fun of their clothes. She mentioned their names throughout the night: Betsy, Jean, Joan, and Kay. She also made fun of Kay’s husband, Rich. When she asked what kind of home they had, Kay said, “It’s a Tuscan house.” “You know they have a lot of those houses in Tuscany,” Dame Edna replied. The best response, however, was when she asked what color her bedroom was. “Cream.” Steering it away from the obvious, Dame Edna said, “So you’re talking about the walls. The walls are cream. And the ceiling? Is the ceiling cream? And how about the bed?” “Teal.” Dame Edna congratulated Kay on her adventurous colors. “We have other colors, too,” Kay said. “We have black.” “And what is black?” Dame Edna asked. “The chairs.” “You have chairs in your bedroom? So you like to have people watch?”
The first half ended with another song and dance routine.
Out in the lobby, you could take pictures with a backdrop featuring Dame Edna, purchase Dame Edna merchandise (which included the glasses, a boa, and an official program), and even buy a drink called a Possum.
I thought about buying a program, but when I see something for free, I tend to not want to buy anything…which is also true when I see something I’ve paid for.
The second half of the show featured a “spiritual” Dame Edna. At one point, she told us she had been observing the audience the whole night, reading our karma, and she believed she had found two people who would be a perfect wedding match. So, up onstage came Wesley and Louise. Wesley looked to be in his twenties, gay, with partially dyed hair. Louise was 70+ (maybe 80+), a widower, with white hair. This was the funniest bit of the night, even though Dame Edna’s attempt to call Wesley’s friend Alicia to tell her the good news ended up reaching her answering machine (and this was after the first attempt, to call his other friend, didn’t connect).
After the throwing of the gladdies, we were shown a montage of clips from Dame Edna’s 60-year career, played once again in the “lens” of her glasses. They included clips with Joan Rivers, Robin Williams, and even Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. Then, Barry Humphries came out in a tux, top hat, and cane and addressed the audience as himself.
“When Dame Judi Dench was acting in a play in London,” he said, “someone came to her dressing room and asked her, ‘Don’t you find they cut into your evenings?”
“Thank you for cutting into my evenings, and I hope you can join me for my next farewell tour,” he ended, touching his nail-polished fingers to the brim of his hat.
Dame Edna’s Glorious Goodbye -The Farewell Tour ran from Thursday, January 15 through Sunday, January 18 at the Moore Theatre in Seattle. She picked Seattle as the first city in which to start her American farewell tour — a city she has visited twice before. I attended the opening night show, which was apparently the same show that Seattle Times theater critic Misha Berson went to.