One of the season's unqualified hits, Dame Edna: The Royal Tour has racked up an impressive array of honors: a Theatre World Award, a Drama Desk Award (for solo performance), and an Outer Critics Circle Award for special achievement. Not bad for an Australian man dressed in granny spectacles, tiaras and bugle-beaded gowns.
Barry Humphries created Edna -- described as a "Melbourne housewife chanteuse swami monstre sacre" -- in 1956. The character first made a splash in Britain with the 1969 show, Just a Show. Subsequent London ventures have included A Night with Dame Edna, Back with a Vengeance and 1996's Look at Me When I'm Talking to You.
Royal Tour has proved a season-long hit for Humphries/Edna, who slings insults right and left, following them with, "and I mean that in the most caring and loving way." Comic bits include having an audience member call her babysitter, singing such tunes as "Friends Of Kenny" (about her son's interesting social life) and tossing gladioli into the crowd.
Edna leaves Broadway's Booth Theatre July 2, with a North American tour to follow.
-- By David Lefkowitz