BEST BETS: Mason brings Dame Edna to Milton Theatre

After more than a decade of impersonating the outrageous Australian character Dame Edna Everage, Scott Mason has had to stop short of disappointing a few people along the way.

“I was doing a gig in New Jersey once and a woman had me sign her program. She said to me ‘My son and I saw you in Philadelphia. You were great.’ How do I tell them I’m not the real Dame Edna? I just played along with it,” he said.

The “real” Dame Edna is actually Australian comedian Barry Humphries, who has portrayed the exuberantly over-the-

Scott Mason impersonates the outrageous Australian character Dame Edna Saturday night at the Milton Theatre. (Submitted photo)

top housewife complete with an outlandish wardrobe and cat-eyed glasses for 60 years.

Dame Edna has been a frequent talk show guest over the years, has had her own stage productions and even her own talk show in Great Britain, which was broadcast in America.

Mr. Mason, of Newark, is the Dame’s double, hand-picked by Mr. Humphries himself. He’ll bring his version of the character to the Milton Theatre Saturday for a night of laughs.

Mr. Mason received Mr. Humphries’ blessing after winning a contest to pick Dame Edna’s “honorary understudy” in February of 2010.

In order to promote the Broadway show “All About Me,” Mr. Mason was one of more than a dozen people who tried out for the role, which guaranteed the winner’s name in the program but not a part in the show.

“It was basically a publicity stunt but I still get chills when I think about winning that contest. I was supposed to go on the ‘Today’ show and do dueling Dame Ednas but the show was canceled after two weeks along with the spot on the show,” Mr. Mason said.

His interest in being Dame Edna dates back to 2002 when he attended a Halloween party.

“Some friends of mine were having a party where the theme was ‘come as your favorite TV personality but the opposite gender,’” Mr. Mason said.

“So I got a pink wig and put on a dress. The host interviewed the three top costumed people and I was one of them.”

A member (and now president) of Chapel Street Players in Newark, Mr. Mason appeared as Dame Edna in 2003 at a fundraiser for the theater.

“It sold out and I went from there. I did it at the (Wilmington) Drama League and the Candlelight Dinner Theater (also in Wilmington) and then started getting gigs in New Jersey and it went from there,” he said.

In 2010 and 2012 he won “Best Comedian” at the Las Vegas Reel Awards, which is akin to the Oscars for the tribute artist industry.

He has participated in the Sunburst Conference of Professional Celebrity Impersonators since 2008 where he won “Funniest Male”, “Best Transformation” and “Best Male Costume” three times each and has been inducted into their Hall of Fame.

Mr. Mason has been seen as Dame Edna on the “Rachel Ray” show as well as “CBS Sunday Morning.” He has played as far away as Arizona and Las Vegas all while juggling a job at the University of Delaware as senior associate director for student involvement.

“It’s been a fun ride. I’ve been all over with this,” he said.

He said the hardest part of being Dame Edna was nailing down the rhythm.

“I can talk a mile a minute and she talks very slow and purposeful,” Mr. Mason said.

“In the beginning, I would say ‘Hello, ladies and gentlemen’ and then I realized she calls everyone ‘possums’ so I had to start doing that.”

The dresses and the makeup aren’t a huge obstacle for Mr. Mason, who has worked in the theater for 30 years. The heels aren’t so bad either.

“Walking in heels was a bit of a challenge but thankfully she doesn’t wear ridiculous heels since he’s a bigger man so it’s not quite as treacherous,” he joked.

The show that Mr. Mason performs now is a combination of his own material (about 90 percent) and Mr. Humphries’.

“We got to hang out during his last tour backstage in Washington, D.C. (in April of 2015) and he told me to have at it. He’s a phenomenal guy. It’s a great credential to have the real Dame Edna give you her blessing,” Mr. Mason said.

After studying DVDs, online videos, seeing shows in person and getting to know the real Dame’s piano player, Mr. Mason figured out the secret to his/her success.

“He is very interactive with the audience to where it seems like everything is off the top of his head. But everything he says is scripted,” Mr. Mason said.

“So you look for types in the audience — a bald man or an old woman and then you have fun with them. The first hour of my show is just talked with the audience. They love getting picked on by Dame Edna. It’s a very symbiotic relationship with the audience. I love performing in Milton because the VIP section is very close to the stage and they feel very important when Dame Edna can make fun of them.”

Although Mr. Humphries has given Mr. Mason his blessing to do his own show, he does feel a duty to stay within the parameters of the Dame Edna character.

“She doesn’t curse as a rule. She may pull out a word just for shock value though. She’s not political so you won’t hear Trump bashing. She is from Australia and hates the whole PC culture of puritanism and loves calling out the double standards,” Mr. Mason said.

“She picks on people but she’s gentle. So it’s not insulting or rude.”

Mr. Mason would eventually like to develop a one-man show around the real Mr. Humphries.

“He’s had a fascinating life. He was incarcerated for a while for getting in fights. He was on ‘Ally McBeal’ for two seasons; he was the voice of Bruce the shark in ‘Finding Nemo’; and he was the Goblin King in ‘The Hobbit.’ You can see the facial expressions of Dame Edna in that character,” Mr. Mason said.

“This way if people ever forget about Dame Edna, they can still remember him.”

Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $15 and available for purchase online at MiltonTheatre.com, via phone by calling 302-684-3038, or at the door.

VIP tickets are sold out.

Milton Theatre is at 110 Union St.

Knopf at Old State House

Tonight, Delaware Friends of Folk will present the next event in their 2017-18 Old State House concert series, inside the Old State House on The Green in Dover.

The free series is produced in cooperation with the First State Heritage Park and is supported by a grant from the Kent County Fund for the Arts. The concert is free and open to the public. The one-hour performance will begin at 7:30 pm. Seating is limited.

Sol Knopf performs tonight at the Old State House in Dover.
(Submitted photo/Nancy Fay)

This month’s show features Delaware singer/songwriter Sol Knopf. He is an award-winning musician and solo performer best known for his baritone voice and original songs. His 2013 single “My Baby Girl” has become one of most requested independently released father-daughter dance songs at wedding across the USA.

His 2016 CD release “Rehoboth Beach” expresses an affection for positive themes — from paying tribute to those who show bravery in their everyday lives with the song “Brave” to admiring those who aspire to change the world by touching one life at a time with “Just One Life.”

The CD was dedicated to his mother Dolores, who passed in 2014 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Mr. Knopf donates 10 percent of his merchandise sales to the Alzheimer’s Association.

 

‘302’ film series

Producer/director Michael Oates, of 302 Stories, Inc., will kick off a film series, “302 Stories: Telling the stories of Delaware’s People and Places” about the First State’s history and culture from the shores of the Delaware Bay to the farmland to the west, hosted by the Bayside Institute, Bayside Resort Golf Club in Selbyville.

It will take place on Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Health and Aquatic Club at the Bayside Resort Golf Club, 31264 Americana Parkway. It is free to members and $5 to the public with free popcorn for everyone.

Mr. Oates will show clips of his documentaries: “The ’62 Storm; White Gold,” “An Evolving Legacy; Wood Shavings to Hot Sparks” and “Cluck, Pluck and Luck”. There will be a Q & A following the presentation.

The films will show in full on the following dates:

Jan. 24: “The ’62 Storm: Delaware’s Shared Response.” More damaging than Sandy, this powerful winter nor’easter pounded Delaware’s shoreline for three days and five successive high tides, destroying homes and businesses, flooding communities, and taking lives.

Feb. 7: “White Gold: Delaware’s Oystering History”. One-hundred years ago, Leipsic, Little Creek and Bowers Beach were among Delaware’s flourishing maritime communities, relying on huge harvests of Delaware Bay oysters, commonly called “white gold.” “White Gold” recounts Delaware’s past and present oyster industry, the attempts to revive it, and the efforts of one waterman to bring a wooden schooner back to its former glory.

Feb. 21: “An Evolving Legacy: Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act.” Forty years ago, Delaware’s landmark Coastal Zone Act preserved the state’s shoreline, making it off-limits to heavy industrial development. The battle to pass this legislation transformed local environmental awareness into sweeping statewide action, challenging other states and the nation to do the same.

March 7: “Wood Shavings to Hot Sparks: The History of Shipbuilding in Milford, Delaware.” For over 200 years, the history of Milford was tied to its shipbuilding industry. Yet today only one shipyard remains — the former Vinyard Shipbuilding Company — brought back from near abandonment by a determined couple.

March 21: “Cluck, Pluck and Luck: The Improbable Early History of Delmarva’s Chicken Industry.” In 1923, an Ocean View housewife ordered 50 chicks and received 500. DuPont Highway was completed in 1924. Demand for Kosher meat in New York City was high. Delmarva’s chicken industry was born.

For more information about the film series, call 302-564-7653 or baysideinstitute.com.

Grants available

Nonprofit organizations are invited to apply for grants from the Kent County Fund for the Arts, a fund of the CenDel Foundation, benefiting organizations in Central Delaware focused on the arts.

The Kent County Fund for the Arts will award over $20,000 in grants in 2018. Applications are now being accepted from schools, nonprofits, civic and community organizations for programs that help to foster the growth of arts organizations in Kent County.

To be eligible, the organizations must be a public institution and maintain a qualified 501(c)(3) status with proper documentation of nonprofit status from the IRS.

Grant requests must be submitted on a 2018 KCFA application form by mail by 4 p.m. on or prior to April 2. Forms are available at www.cendelfoundation.org and can be found under the “apply for grant” tab located at the top of the page. Applicants will be notified of the grant winners in June.

Now showing

New in theaters this weekend is Steven Spielberg’s “The Post,” Liam Neeson in “The Commuter,” the thriller “Proud Mary” and the family film “Paddington 2”.

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Blade Runner 2049” and the horror film “Happy Death Day.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment