Last week, after a long day of jury duty in Downtown Los Angeles, I met Dan and my Father-in-Law, Dave, for Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye: The Farewell Tour at the Ahmanson Theatre. The Ahmanson is located in The Music Center Complex, which is my favorite place in all of Los Angeles. Magic happens here.
We arrived a few hours early, giving us enough time for a leisurely dinner at Kendall's Brasserie, a French restaurant located in The Music Center complex. Many years ago, I had a lackluster meal at a different restaurant that used to inhabit the same location. I was pleased to have a wonderful meal at Kendall's Brasserie. If you're a seafood fan, the sea bass with leaks is scrumptious. Beyond the food, this restaurant has a great vibe. Most of the other patrons are also doing a pre-theatre meal, so everyone seems excited and happy. I highly recommend Kendall's Brasserie if you have tickets for a show. It was a great start to the evening!
Barry Humphries created the character of Dame Edna Everage while attending college in Melbourne in 1955. He has since taken his character around the world and in 2000, he even won a Tony Award. This is his third time bringing Dame Edna to the Ahmanson Theatre, but my first time experiencing the character live.
We had great seats in the sixth row of the orchestra. This is great, except that the show relies heavily on audience participation. My stomach hurt from both laughing and bracing myself for potentially being called out during the show. Luckily, we survived unscathed. If you're sitting in the front, make sure to dress nice and don't engage in any bad behavior. If you fail in these areas, Dame Edna will notice and she will tell the entire theatre! Among those called out, was a woman rooting in her purse for a cough drop and the loud crinkle noise that she made when she unwrapped it. There was also a woman in the front row who decided to read her program mid-show. Naughty! Funny enough, there was a man sitting in the front row, who had decided to deck himself out in a homemade Dame Edna costume and he was completely ignored.
The show is loosely scripted with Dame Edna filling us in on her life and her enlightenment that she found while on a trip to the far east. There are a few musical numbers with back up dancers, that transition the sections of the show. Mostly, this is a stand-up show, with Dame Edna interacting with the audience. Humphries' sharp wit and quick thinking is impressive. Although interacting with the audience is entirely unpredictable, he never flusters and manages to stay in character with a quick observation or comeback. He's so quick that it often takes the audience a beat to catch up with his joke.
My favorite moment was when he pulled two audience members on stage for a quick wedding. He picked a young man and an elderly woman, named Audrey. Audrey was extremely vivacious and gave Humphries a run for his money with her remarks. She practically stole the show. What was fun to watch, was seeing that Humphries was clearly amused by Audrey's antics, as he tried to keep control of the stage. Humphries has a lot of fun playing Dame Edna and this shines through.
I can't remember the last time that I saw a more entertaining or outrageous show. At curtain call, Humphries returned to the stage sans the Dame Edna costume and he thanked everyone for coming to the show. Although this is a farewell tour, he alluded to the possibility for another "final" show. I hope that he is healthy and willing to go another round, because the world needs more Dame Edna.