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DAME EDNA: THE ROYAL TOUR

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Quite simply, Dame Edna is hosting the best party in town from the stage of the "tucked away Shuuuubert Theatre." Edna is the inspired dame-child of Australian actor Barry Humphries, who over the past five decades has taken Edna from ordinary Melbourne housewife to international megastar and Tony winner. There's nothing Dame Edna can't do: Blessed with healthy self-esteem and a theatrical fashion sense, she sings, dances, telephones unsuspecting babysitters and mothers, provides scrumptious dinners from Harry's Bar to good-natured audience members, and dresses others up like royals. The audience is her co-star; she's very interactive. Impish, devilish, snobbish, nosy, spontaneous, cheeky, hilarious, and refreshingly politically incorrect, Edna has a gift for insulting her audience in "the most loving and caring way."

Where else can you learn hints on how to save your inheritance by sending cognitively impaired seniors on beautiful trips they'll never remember—between 4 and 4:45 in the morning? Just turn them brown under a sun lamp and pour sand in all their crevices—they'll think they've been to India. Her own dear mum is in a maximum-security nursing home for the bewildered and wears electronic devices on both her legs, so you always know how far apart they are.

She's proud of her son, Kenny, and his roommate. Many in the audience were familiar with "Any Friend of Kenny's Is a Friend of Mine" and sang along. She gives away dozens of gladiolas and shows her masculine side by successfully tossing them high into the balcony, to the poor possums who can't afford the more expensive seats. Edna is blessed with the ability to laugh at the misfortune of others. And it's our good fortune that she can and does. She's a full-figured icon, full of fun—the outspoken aunt you always wanted. She's a hoot, and all she really wants is to be queen of California.

Her talented and hard-working piano accompanist, Wayne Barker, takes souvenir photos of everyone she invites onstage. She enjoys strong support from two gorgeous Ednaette dancers, Teri Digianfelice and Michelle Pampena. The elaborate scenic design is by Kenneth Foy. Wonderfully over-the-top costumes are by Stephen Adnitt—and sewn by "aboriginal nuns" who must have cornered the market on sequins. Lighting design is by Jason Kantrowitz and sound by Peter Fitzgerald. Added material is by Ian Davidson.

"Dame Edna: The Royal Tour," presented by and at the Shubert Theatre, 2020 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles. Tues.-Sat. 8 p.m., Thurs., Sat. 2 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m. May 15-27. $30-60. (800) 447-7400.

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