Broadway has a new odd couple, and they were not paired by Neil Simon. Tony Award-winning entertainer Dame Edna Everage and Grammy-nominated musician Michael Feinstein star in All About Me, a mash-up of Australia's outrageous self-proclaimed "gigastar" and the cabaret artist who has kept the flame of the Great American Song alive.
In a not-thinly-veiled producing scheme, it was separately announced that the performers would each star in a Broadway show called All About Me, leading to announcements of competition and tension.
Then, of course, they decided to get their act together for what is one of the more unique specialty acts in Broadway history.
Feinstein touched on the topic of their faux-prickly competition at a press event prior to the Feb. 22 first preview. "We've had a rapprochement and we found that the best way to deal with the residual emotions of that journey to what the show has become is to reenact some of the contretemps [on stage]," he said. "Therefore, it gives both of us ample opportunity to let go of whatever animosity we might have and then we come together in love and harmony by the end of the show… hopefully. It's looking pretty good anyway."
The stars have aligned themselves with a seasoned creative team, including three-time Tony-nominated director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw ( Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone) and acclaimed playwright Christopher Durang ( Why Torture Is Wrong, The Marriage of Bette and Boo), who are shaping the evening (set to open March 18) that captures the best of its stars.
Durang 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. We added a stage manager character who comes in, who sort of forces them to take turns a minute at a time. So yes, there's a section where Michael is doing his show and there's a section where [Dame Edna, who is managed by Barry Humphries] is doing the Dame Edna show and then in Act Two they collaborate."
Director Nicholaw, who is responsible for holding the reins on his megawatt talents, is treading new territory with All About Me. "There is no model," he said of the format. "I think we're just sort of just doing it and saying, 'If I were sitting in the audience what would entertain me?' And saying. 'Oh let's go from here to there, that would be fun.' We started with the top of the show and then just kept going through and saying, 'What would we like to see next? I'd like to see this, or I'd like to see Edna do this with Michael,' and see how we can put the two of them together."
Feinstein added, "For people who expect to hear certain classic songs, I will be doing some of those because we each have our solo segments. Then there's the story of how we're going to get along and how we're going to make it work together, which is sort of the crux of the show."
For her part, Australian native Dame Edna promised to give the audience something eye-catching in a series of gowns designed by her beloved son Kenny. "It will be a feast of beautiful frocks. It will be a frock-a-thon," she exclaimed.
|photo by Aubrey Reuben|
All About Me, which employs a 12-piece band, won't solely focus on Feinstein's musical talents and the Dame's comedy. Both stars will explore songs from their respective homelands. Everage said of Feinstein, "He is an exponent of the Great American Songbook and I am the exponent of the Great Australian Songbook. The Great Australian Songbook is wonderful, it differs from the American Songbook in one respect — it's thinner. In fact, it's almost a pamphlet. But it has lovely, lovely songs in it. 'Waltzing Matilda,' 'The Dingo Ate My Baby' — beautiful songs."
"We will not only be singing together, but we have been working very, very hard, choreographically, to create a couple of memorable dance numbers that I think will be remembered on the Great White Way for many years to come," Feinstein said.
All About Me offers a few surprises as well. Everage, known for her improvisation with an audience, promised to deliver. "There will be [improv]," said the Dame. "Mostly when I forget my lines, which is most of the time, isn't it Michael?"
"If you're on stage with Dame Edna you will be doing ad-libbing," Feinstein countered. "I guess it's the actor's nightmare — I don't know what's going to be happening from night to night, but that's part of the excitement for me, because it's going to be a different show every night."
When asked what the two had learned since pooling their resources and sharing the stage, Everage (who is never at a loss for words) summed up the experience: "We've learned, I think Michael, that next time we'll do it on our own."
For tickets, phone (212) 239-6200 or visit Telecharge. The Henry Miller's Theatre is located at 124 West 43rd Street.
Michael Feinstein gave Playbill an exclusive tour of moments from his life and career in this Playbill Slideshow, which features intimate shots with mentor Ira Gershwin, friends Joan Rivers, Liza Minnelli and others.