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Dame Edna

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By Esther Lynn

Look out, Frank Marino! Dame Edna is on approach!

Dame (noun) 1. a title used in front of a woman's name which is given in Britain as a special honor, usually for valuable work done over a long period, or a woman having this honor, comparable to a knight. 2. Dame Edna Everage

When you think of multitasking, Dame Edna Everage probably takes the cake She might be the busiest woman in the world today, as a housewife, investigative journalist, social anthropologist, talk show host, swami, children's book illustrator, spin doctor, Megastar, and Icon. Eat you heart out, Martha Stewart! Along with Olivia Newton-John, Kylie Minogue, Dame Judith Anderson, Zo Caldwell and Nicole Kidman, Edna is one of a remarkable succession of female stars to emerge from Australia.

Her television credits include the now legendary UK special, "A Night on Mt. Edna," and her own innovative chat show, "The Dame Edna Experience," where the hostess interviewed many special guests including Cher, Robin Williams, Roseanne Barr, Jane Fonda, Charlton Heston, Liza Minnelli, Sean Connery and Mel Gibson.

Also a successful author, her books include Dame Edna's Coffee Table Book, Dame Edna's Bedside Companion and her autobiography, My Gorgeous Life, which has been translated into many languages and, on Government orders, has been placed in hotel rooms throughout Britain and Australia. There is also the possibility that the autobiography will be adapted for film or stage.

I hope it won't spoil the Dame Edna experience to reveal - for the handful of folks who may not already know - that this dame is really no doll. "Dame" Edna would more correctly be described as a "knight." "She" is really Australian actor, writer and creator Barry Humphries, but as Joe E. Brown said to Jack Lemmon after discovering that "she" is really a "he" in Some Like It Hot, "Nobody's perfect."

Dr. Humphries is not only a successful character actor, he is also one of Australia's best-loved landscape painters. His works are in many private and public collections, both in his homeland and abroad. He was educated at the University of Melbourne, where he studied law, philosophy, and fine arts. After writing and performing songs and sketches in University revues, Humphries joined the Melbourne Theatre Company. In 1956, he created the character of Mrs. Everage, a Melbourne housewife who has subsequently become internationally celebrated, evolving into the hugely popular Dame Edna.

During the '60s in London, Barry Humphries appeared in numerous West End productions, among them the musicals Oliver! (in which Phil Collins plays The Artful Dodger) and Maggie May by Lionel Bart, and stage/radio productions by his friend Spike Milligan, in particular The Bed Sitting Room. He also played Long John Silver at the Mermaid Theatre.

Between West End engagements he regularly returned to Australia with a new one-man show, where he portrayed a wide range of characters, including one female character, Edna, whose popularity was fast developing. By the mid-70s Humphries was no longer playing character roles in British films, plays and television shows, but starring in his own one-man show at the Apollo Theatre in London. Housewife Superstar!, dominated by Dame Edna, took London by storm. He has been presenting his own shows in the West End ever since, culminating in Edna, The Spectacle at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, arguably the most beautiful theatre in Europe.

In 1979, Humphries won the Society of West End Theatres Award for A Night with Dame Edna at the Piccadilly Theatre. Since then, he has collected innumerable honors for stage and television work, including the Rose d'Orde Montreux in 1991 for his television show, "A Night on Mount Edna," and a Sir Peter Ustinov Endowment, for his life work as an entertainer, at the Banff Television Festival in 1997. He has toured in Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and in the Far and Middle East, and recorded Dame Edna television specials for the NBC and Fox networks. Other notable awards include first prize at the San Francisco International Film Festival, a Gold Award at the New York Film and TV Festival, and a British Academy Award Nomination for "The Dame Edna Experience." Most recently, the Broadway production of Dame Edna: The Royal Tour received a Special Tony Award for Live Theatrical Event.

Dr. Humphries is the author of several books, novels, autobiographies, poetry and plays. His autobiography More, Please won the J.R. Ackerley prize for biography in 1993, and he is the subject of two critical and biographical studies: The Real Barry Humphries by Peter Coleman, and Dame Edna Everage and the Rise of Western Civilization by John Lahr. He was given the Order of Australia in 1982, and was endowed with an Honorary Doctorate of Griffith University (Australia) in 1994. He is married to Lizzie Spender, the daughter of British poet Sir Stephen Spender, and has two sons and two daughters.

With lines such as "My mother used to say that there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet. She's now in a maximum security twilight home in Australia" and "Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century," it might be hard to convince the throngs of possums (as this dame calls her devoted old and new fans) that this gal isnt perfect.

For more than four decades, Dame Edna has dazzled audiences the world over with her one-of-a-kind banter, infinite wisdom and fabulous beauty tips. Prepare to laugh yourself silly when the incomparable Dame Edna Everage, who the Miami Herald critics call "Screechingly funny!" and WBZ-TV in Boston describes as "The funniest woman on the planet!," debuts her "Dame In The Desert" show in Las Vegas. Give yourself a holiday gift of a visit with Dame Edna.

Dame Edna
Luxor Las Vegas
December 18, Sunday 8 pm
December 19, Monday 8 pm
December 21, Wednesday 8 pm
December 22, Thursday 8 pm
December 23, Friday 8 pm
December 24, Saturday 7 & 10 pm
December 25, Sunday 7 & 10 pm
December 26, Monday 8 pm
December 28, Wednesday 8 pm
December 29, Thursday 7 & 10 pm
December 30, Friday 7 & 10 pm
Tickets $66, $71.50, $82.50 plus $3 service charge
December 31, New Year's Eve Saturday 10:30 pm
$110, $137.50 plus $3 service charge
Reservations (702) 262-4400 or (800) 557-7428

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