Dame Edna and Michael Feinstein Will Team For Broadway's ALL ABOUT ME
Shubert Organization Chairman Philip J. Smith and President Robert E. Wankel have intervened in the ever growing public feud between Michael Feinstein's All About Me and Dame Edna: It's All About Me.
Said a Shubert Organization representative:
"Due to a shortage of theaters this spring, and two ridiculously (and oddly) similar titles that would ultimately be immensely confusing to the theater-going public, we have convinced both artists, in an entirely, completely, and totally unprecedented move, to join forces to create a joint endeavor simply titled ALL ABOUT ME."
"We love Michael and the Dame, and because we hold both artists in such high esteem, we are more than overjoyed that they have agreed to join forces in what we expect to be a singular and spectacular musical entertainment. Now it's on to who gets the bigger dressing room...."
Famed director Jerry Zaks has generously agreed to direct the new joint endeavor.
Acclaimed playwright Christopher Durang, previously announced in negotiations for Dame Edna's solo show, will now combine both shows into one unique musical entertainment.
The newly conjoined show will be produced by the newly conjoined producing team of Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Robert G. Bartner, and the AMBASSADOR THEATER GROUP.
"As I said before, I have always been a huge fan of the Dame, and despite our previous friction, now that my mother has forgiven her, I couldn't be more excited to be joining her on Broadway."
"Because the essence of my show's title was always All About Me, I'm more than delighted having the "It's" go the way of the Dodo. Michael Feinstein is a performer of the highest caliber, I believe, and I couldn't be more than excited to be sharing a Broadway stage with him, in moderation. And with nice Christopher Durang at our side, who knows what saucy little moments we can come up with!"
-Dame Edna Everage
ALL ABOUT ME: starring Dame Edna and Michael Feinstein, will preview at a Shubert Theater to be announced on SATURDAY, MARCH 6th in preparation for a TUESDAY, MARCH 23rd opening.
Michael Feinstein - the multi-platinum selling, five-time Granny nominated entertainer dubbed of "The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook" - is considered one of the premiere interpreters of American Popular Song. His 150 plus shows a year have included Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium, the Hollywood Bowl and major concert halls, as well as the White House and Buckingham Palace. More than a mere performer, he is nationally recognized for his commitment to the American popular song, both celebrating its art and preserving its legacy for the next generation.
Feinstein's newest CD "The Power of Two", in collaboration with Cheyenne Jackson, has been called "Groundbreaking" by the New York Times.
The Sinatra Project - his recent CD from Concord Records which celebrates the musical sensibilities of "Old Blue Eyes" - earned Michael his fifth Grammy Award nomination in 2009. Feinstein is currently preparing PBS-TV series, "Michael Feinstein: Man On A Mission" - to start airing in 2010 - in which Michael discovers treasures of the Great American Songbook around the world. He is designing a new piano for Steinway called "The First Ladies," inspired by the White House piano. Feinstein will also serve as the Artistic director of the Carmel Performing Arts Center, a $160 million three-theatre performing arts center in Carmel, Indiana which will host an annual international Great American Songbook festival, along with diverse live programming and a museum to house his rare memorabilia and manuscripts. Starting 2010, Michael will be taking the helm as the Director of the Popular Song Series at Jazz at Lincoln Center
Michael has written the score for two new stage musicals: The Day They Saved Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and The Gold Room, and he has just started to work with MGM developing The Thomas Crown Affair into a musical for Broadway.
His previous CD from Concord Records is Hopeless Romantics, a songbook of Harry Warren classics recorded with legendary jazz pianist George Shearing. In 2004, Michael completed a national tour with songwriting icon Jimmy Webb based on their CD, Only One Life - The Songs of Jimmy Webb. The disc was named one of "10 Best CDs of the Year" by USA Today.
In 2003, Michael received his fourth Grammy Award nomination for his release, Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, his first recording with a symphony orchestra. The year before, Rhino/Elektra Music released The Michael Feinstein Anthology, a 2-disc compilation spanning the years 1987 to 1996, featuring old favorites and previously unreleased tracks.
Michael hosted and produced The Great American Songbook, a PBS Special and DVD set from Warner Brothers Home Video that traces the history of popular music in our country. His own record label Feinery, a Concord Records subsidiary, released The Livingston & Evans Songbook, featuring Feinstein and special guest Melissa Manchester. Feinery also records favorite current artists and restore recordings & musical broadcasts from the golden age of popular song.
His Manhattan nightclub, Feinstein's at Loews Regency, has presented the top talents of pop and jazz such as Rosemary Clooney, Steve Tyrell, Barbara Cook, Tony Danza, Glen Campbell, Diahann Carroll, Jackie Mason and Dame Cleo Laine. He appears there for a sold-out holiday engagement every year. Michael also opened the new theater, Feinstein's at the Shaw, in London featuring such talent as Eartha Kitt, Dionne Warwick, Elaine Stritch, Chita Rivera and Boy George.
Michael started playing piano by ear when he was five. After graduating from high school in Columbus, Ohio, he worked in local piano lounges for two years, moving to Los Angeles when he was 20. Through the widow of legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant, he was introduced to Ira Gershwin in July 1977. He became his assistant for six years, granting him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, which he has since performed and recorded.
Gershwin's influence provided a solid base upon which Mr. Feinstein has not only evolved into a captivating performer, composer and arranger of his own original music, but has also become an unparalleled interpreter of music legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington and Harry Warren.
Through his live performances, recordings, film and television appearances, and his songwriting (in collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Lindy Robbins and Carole Bayer Sager), Feinstein has been an important musical force during the past 15 years. In addition, he scored the original music for the film Get Bruce. His television credits include performances on "7th Heaven," "Caroline in the City," "Melrose Place," "Coach," and "Cybill."
The Library of Congress elected Michael to the exclusive "National Sound Recording Advisory Board" safeguarding America's musical heritage.
Dame Edna Everage, housewife, megastar, investigative journalist, social anthropologist, children's book illustrator, diseuse, chanteuse, swami, monstre sacré, polymath, adviser to British royalty, grief counsellor, spin doctor and icon is, arguably, the most popular and gifted woman in the world today.
Her career began in Melbourne, Australia in 1956 (see her best selling autobiography My Gorgeous Life - published in England by Macmillan and in the United States by Simon & Schuster and non-unobtainable) and though in the Fifties when her journey as a performing artiste began she had a strictly cult following.
In the 1960s Mrs Everage - as she then was - did a series of one-woman shows with Barry Humphries in her native Australia and occasional stage and television appearances in England. She first appeared on the British stage at the Fortune Theatre in 1968 in Just a Show which received a mixed reception from the critics, though rave notices from writers such as John Osborne. This led to a short-lived television seriesThe Barry Humphries Scandals.
Dame Edna's career really blossomed during the Seventies when her success in Australia was repeated in Britain with stage shows including Housewife, Superstar and A Night With Dame Edna. A Night With Dame Edna won the Society of West End Managements award for the best comedy performance of the year in 1979. In this decade the Melbourne housewife/performer was awarded a damehood (a high British honour for her services to culture) and in the Eighties she embarked on a series of spectacular stage and television shows including An Audience With Dame Edna and Another Audience With Dame Edna where she captivated a studio audience of celebrities for over an hour with her off-the-cuff replies to unrehearsed questions fired by audience members. Dame Edna's stage appearances in London have been legendary and she has performed to large audiences throughout in the Royal Albert Hall and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, often described as the greatest theatre in the world.
Her innovative television presentations have been copied by many, but never equalled. Edna also hosted two series of her own - the innovative and cutting edge talk show, The Dame Edna Experience where her past guests have included Jane Fonda, Charlton Heston, Liza Minelli, Sean Connery and Mel Gibson and Julio Inglesias. She has also recorded similar television specials for the NBC and Fox Networks, where her guests have included Kim Bassinger, Robin Williams, Chevy Chase and Barry Manilow. Her butlers over the years have been Charlton Heston, Caesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, and Michael Gough. Her TV special A Night on Mount Edna won the foremost European TV Entertainment Award "The Golden Rose of Montreux 1991". Edna's other notable awards include a British Academy Award, first prizes at the San Francisco International Film Festival and Gold Awards at the New York Film and TV Festival. She is also a star in Western Europe, having just completed a series of sell-out stage appearances in Germany. In 1994 she was honoured with the top Scandinavian award for the most popular TV personality in Denmark.
Since her television programmes for the NBC and Fox networks proved to be so successful, she has been a popular interviewee on talk shows such as Carson, Arsenio and Donaghue, and is a regular on the Jay Leno Show. Three years ago she performed the famous NBC New Year's Eve 'Countdown' in Times Square, and she has plans for a fact-finding mission to the United States in selected theatres. More recently, she hosted the Montreal Comedy Festival to great acclaim. Dame Edna's imaginative variations on the talk show theme, where she often left the studio, making excursions to supermarkets to pick up provisions and surprise guests, only to return to the set and resume the show, are devices which have since cropped up on Leno and Letterman - naturally, without acknowledgement. It could be justly said that the Australian housewife has decisively influenced the formerly staid and ponderous American talk show.
Her books include Dame Edna's Coffee Table Book, Dame Edna's Bedside Companion, Lost Monasteries of Bulgaria, her famous autobiography My Gorgeous Life and her new book (in the pipeline) Love Your Husband's Prostate.
Dame Edna is possibly Jewish (in a former life) and has three grown-up children. She spends her time visiting world leaders and jet setting between her homes in Malibu, London, Sydney and Switzerland. She is the founder and Governor of 'Friends of the Prostate' and the World Women's Prostate Olympics.
Dame Edna is the subject of an important study by the theatre historian and New Yorker critic, John Lahr - Dame Edna Everage and the Rise of Western Civilisation
She is the patron and founder of EdnaCare (Switzerland), which leases her services worldwide. Her hobbies are having afternoon tea with Stephen Hawking and compassionate photography. She especially likes lensing her fashionable friends in Aspen and Gstaad, and war orphans.
Her motto is: I'm sorry, but I care.
Jerry Zaks most recently directed Chazz Palminteri's hit solo show A Bronx Tale on Broadway, and the acclaimed City Center Encores! production of Stairway to Paradise. He has received four Tony Awards, four Drama Desks, two Outer Critics Circle Awards, an Obie and an NAACP Image Award nomination for his national tour of The Tap Dance Kid. He has directed more than 30 productions in New York, including Guys and Dolls (Tony Award), Six Degrees of Separation (Tony Award), Lend Me a Tenor (Tony Award), House of Blue Leaves (Tony Award), A Funny Thing...Forum (Tony Award nomination), Smokey Joe's Café (Tony Award nomination), Anything Goes (Tony Award nomination), La Cage aux Folles (Tony Award, Outstanding Musical Revival), The Foreigner (Obie Award), The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Obie Award), The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Little Shop of Horrors, The Man Who Came to Dinner, A Bad Friend, The Front Page, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Assassins (Drama Desk nomination), Wenceslas Square, Sister Mary Ignatius..., Beyond Therapy and The Civil War. He also directed the Old Vic's production of The Philadelphia Story in London, starring Kevin Spacey, as well as the award-winning film Marvin's Room, starring Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton. Mr. Zaks served as resident director at Lincoln Center Theater from 1986-1990 and is a founding member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre. He has also directed episodes for the long-running hit comedies "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Frasier" and "Two and a Half Men." A graduate of Dartmouth with an MFA from Smith, he received the SSDC's George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre in 1994 and an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Dartmouth in 1999. Since 1990 he has been proudly affiliated with Jujamcyn Theaters.
Christopher Durang is a playwright whose plays include A History of the American Film (Tony nomination, Best Book of a Musical, 1978), The Actor's Nightmare, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You (Obie award; off-Bway run 1981-83), Beyond Therapy (on Broadway in 1982, with Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow), Baby with the Bathwater (Playwrights Horizons, 1983), The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Public Theatre, 1985; Obie award, Dramatists Guild Hull Warriner Award), Laughing Wild (Playwrights Horizons, 1987), Durang/Durang (an evening of six plays at Manhattan Theatre Club, 1994, including the Tennessee Williams' parody, For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls), Sex and Longing (Lincoln Center Theatre production at the Cort Theatre, 1996, starring Sigourney Weaver), and Betty's Summer Vacation (Playwrights Horizons, 1999; Obie award).
His most recent works are Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge, which premiered at City Theatre in Pittsburgh in 2002. And the musical Adrift in Macao, with music by Peter Melnick and book and lyrics by Durang, which premiered at New York Stage and Film in summer 2002, and is under option for off-Broadway 2003-04.
Durang is also a performer, and acted with E. Katherine Kerr in the N.Y. premiere of Laughing Wild, and with Jean Smart in the L.A. production. He shared in an acting ensemble Obie for The Marriage of Bette and Boo; and with John Augustine and Sherry Anderson has performed his crackpot cabaret Chris Durang and Dawne at the Criterion Center, Caroline's Comedy Club, Williamstown Summer Cabaret, and the Triad, winning a 1996 Bistro Award.
In the early 80s, he and Sigourney Weaver co-wrote and performed in their acclaimed Brecht-Weill parody, Das Lusitania Songspiel, and were both nominated for Drama Desk awards for Best Performer in a Musical.
In 1993 he sang in the five person off-Broadway Sondheim revue, Putting It Together, with Julie Andrews at the Manhattan Theatre Club. And he played a singing Congressman in the Encores presentation of Call Me Madam with Tyne Daly at City Center.
In movies, he has appeared in The Secret of My Success, Mr. North, The Butcher's Wife, Housesitter, and The Cowboy Way, among others.
He has a B.A. from Harvard College, and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Yale School of Drama.
In 1995 he won the prestigious three-year Lila Wallace Readers Digest Writers Award; as part of his grant, he ran a writing workshop for adult children of alcoholics. In 2000 he won the Sidney Kingsley Playwriting Award.
Grove Press publishes several of his plays. Smith and Kraus recently published two new collections: Christopher Durang: 27 Short Plays and Christopher Durang: Complete Full-Length Plays (1975-1995). Grove has recently published Betty's Summer Vacation.
Since 1994 he has been co-chair with Marsha Norman of the Playwriting Program at the Juilliard School in Manhattan.
He is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council.