Even if you aren't one of Dame Edna Everage's biggest fans (and we know who we are), you are likely to find yourself wishing for more of her in "All About Me."
Dame Edna, the impeccably-impolite Australian dowager created 55 years ago by actor-fantasist Barry Humphries, has been shoehorned into a misalliance of a variety act with humorless cabaret icon Michael Feinstein. The alleged joke is that each star believed he/she was doing a solo showcase. Dame Edna - who rightly declares "my self-esteem is infectious!" - is not the only one wondering what the other guy is doing there.
Although the show lasts just 90 minutes, it seems like forever until the appearance of Dame Edna - big hair like lilac cotton candy, voice of a falsetto trucker, sparkly eyeglasses like old Cadillac fins and a mouth that smears across her face whenever she encounters the unacceptable onstage or in the crowd of adoring masochists she calls "possums."
Before she arrives, at the top of her silly, brutal, outlandishly bejeweled game, Feinstein presents a lecture/dem on his specialty, the American songbook, complete with numbing stories about growing up lonely in (he actually says "hold your applause") Columbus, Ohio. There is an excellent orchestra on the supper-club deco set, but, given the brevity of the evening, couldn't director Casey Nicholaw have forgone the solos from the brass section, or the dance number by the fine hunky dancers, or the star turn by Francesca Russell, a terrific but misplaced singer who pads the show as the "stage manager?"
You see, Dame Edna's audience comes to be humiliated (but in the most lovely way) and to hear celebrities and politicians insulted, as she mines the repressed hunger to speak rudely in respectable places. (Poor Gov. Paterson.) Although she promises a "Sondheim-free zone," she delivers a surprisingly poignant "Ladies Who Lunch."
The evening ends with the toss of Dame Edna's signature gladiolas (her "gladdies"), followed by her customary, but no less bizarre, audience sing-a-long. The show has allegedly been co-written by Humphries and Christopher Durang, the witty playwright who does demented cabaret on the side. Durang and Dame Edna, that could have been a show.
WHAT "All About Me"
WHERE Henry Miller's Theatre, 124 W. 43rd St.
INFO $49.50-$126.50; 212-239-6200; allabout mebroadway.com
BOTTOM LINE Too many of them