Unsuspecting audience members arriving at Broadway’s All About Me, opening March 18 after previews since Feb. 22, might be confused about who the real star of the show really is.
Upon arrival, guests will receive one of two dueling Playbills. One features a headshot, bio and top billing for Tony Award-winning entertainer Dame Edna; the other features Grammy-winning singer-pianist Michael Feinstein. And, when I say featured, I don't just mean billed above, or given slightly larger typeface. When one star is featured, the other doesn’t exist.
This faux-battle of the show business egos began long before performances began, when separate statements announced that each star would appear in a new Broadway show called All About Me. At the press event that followed, playwright Christopher Durang (Why Torture is Wrong, The Marriage of Bette and Boo), explained: "There's a tiny bit of plot, in that the setup is that they've somehow been booked into the same theatre and show up on the same night.”
Making the program part of the show (in this case, at the request of the show’s producers) is new territory for Playbill. According to Pam Karr, who edits the Broadway books, this is the first time in her memory two versions of a Playbill have been produced for a single production.
The only similar case was the original production of David Mamet’s divisive Oleanna. One Playbill cover featured a man’s figure in a bull's-eye; the other a woman’s. But unlike All About Me’s Playbills, all the internal content remained the same.
Dame Edna and/or Feinstein fans, beware! Just because there are two different versions of the Playbill doesn’t mean there are twice as many for the taking. If you've already taken a side, you may have to wage a battle of your own to get your preferred memorabilia. If you haven't, you'll just have to take a chance and see which side you end up on.
All About Me is directed by Casey Nicholaw (The Drowsy Chaperone) and written by Christopher Durang. It is currently in previews at Henry Miller’s Theatre.