Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What a Drag


All About Me

Written by Christopher Durang, Barry Humphries, Michael Feinstein

Directed by Casey Nicolaw

Starring Dame Edna, Michael Feinstein, Gregory Butler, Jodi Capeless, Jon-Paul Mateo

February 22-April 4, 2010

Henry Miller’s Theater

150 West 43rd Street


If the brains behind All About Me thought that the absurdity of combining slick crooner Michael Feinstein and drag-queen comedienne Dame Edna in one show would create comedic and musical fireworks that audiences would flock to, they were sadly mistaken.

Although the performers are good at what they do--Feinstein sings the Great American Songbook and Edna gleefully mocks everyone and everything--putting them together on the same stage is worse than mixing oil and water: it’s like placing a microphone and Sarah Palin in the same proximity, and we know what happens at that pairing.

It’s too bad, really, for All About Me does prove a couple of things over the course of a niggling 90-minute running time that gives fans of both entertainers short shrift. Edna (Barry Humphries), for her (his) part, still has stingingly accurate comic timing, notably when she (he) spars with female audience members; too bad there’s not more ad-libbing throughout, since much of the scripted material is simply not nearly as funny. And Feinstein, it must be admitted, is a good sport for putting up with Edna’s lunatic antics when he’s not trying to belt out songs.

With its anything-goes non-structure, All About Me is neither fish nor fowl, and achieves only the dubious honor of cheating audiences out of what they came for. The best joke of the night is the show’s Playbill, which comes in two different editions: one with Feinstein on the cover and no mention of Edna, the other with Edna and no mention of Feinstein.

Onstage, the two consummate professionals trudge on, hitting their stride only near the end in a crazy-quilt medley of tunes as far flung as Kenny Loggins’ “Whenever I Call You Friend” and Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.” And of course Edna’s version of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” is worth sitting through the rest of this bumpy evening just to experience its sheer hilarity.

But both Feinstein and Edna deserve better: Feinstein in his usual gig at the Regency and Edna alone for another solo performance.

originally posted on timessquare.com

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