Wilton Manors' very own Dame Edna recently visited the Great White Way to audition as understudy for Australia’s Dame Edna in her new show All About Me. Her manager Michael Walters kindly spoke with SFGN about the experience.
However, after the interview SFGN wonders if Walters is both manager and Dame Edna herself. We are very concerned!
“I’ve been doing Dame Edna for about ten years now. I don’t consider myself a drag queen or a female impersonator. Instead I prefer celebrity impersonator,” Walters said.
Dame Edna came about quite by accident. He started out in English-themed murder mystery dinner theater. The Brits have historically loved men in drag and he was eventually offered a role as a sort of “psychotic Julia Child.”
“I tried, but I couldn’t do it,” Walters said. “So, I asked for a purple wig and that’s how I began my career as Dame Edna.”
In 2001 he had the opportunity to meet Australia’s Dame Edna on her Royal Tour. “As I believe it’s always better to ask permission than beg forgiveness I approached Barry Humphries about performing as Edna. He agreed. For a long time I was the only authorized Dame Edna in the US,” he said proudly.
About 7 people appeared at the Henry Miller Theater on Broadway for a 2-minute audition. “Out of the 7 only 3 or 4 made a real effort,” Walters said.
However, despite Walters’ commitment to the role and being the originally sanctioned Dame Edna for the US he did not win the prized understudy role.
“It puzzled me, because Michael Feinstein,” who appears in the show, “thought I was the 1st choice. Regardless,” he added happily, “the only thing I missed out on was the Playbill credit. The whole event was a publicity stunt,” Walters admitted. “Dame Edna never uses understudies. I got to have my picture taken with Barry Humphries dressed as Dame Edna and that’s worth its weight in gold.”
Despite the cost of the trip, and not being named as the “understudy” Walters did make first runner up proving his dedication to the role.
He did allow Dame Edna herself to come to the phone, as we had to know: whatever happened to her sidekick, “Madge.”
“It’s rather unfortunate, well, she died, and we had her carbon dated at MIT. We learned she was 100 years old. Madge was my bridesmaid and then sidekick for many years. Meaning dear, that when she was by my side, I kicked her!”
For more of our very own Dame Edna you can visit with her at Georgie’s Alibi on Monday nights in the Manchester Room. There are 3 shows at 8, 9, and 10pm.
2266 Wilton Drive
Wilton Manors, FL 33305