note: entire contents copyright 2011 by Sheila Barth
For more than 25 years, 46-year-old identical twin brothers Anthony and Eddie Edwards have performed nationally, never missing a curtain call. Unfortunately, last week, during their brief run (Jan.12-22) at Stoneham Theatre, Eddie was stricken with vertigo, and had to cancel a performance. Not wanting to disappoint fans, the twins scheduled two extra, make-up shows of their spectacular two-act, 2-1/2-hour “Celebrities on Stage”. They burst on stage last Wednesday night with Las Vegas bravado, changing costumes and personalities in their nonpareil repertoire of celebrity impersonations.
Generally, Anthony performs all male roles, while Eddie, who is slimmer and has a higher voice, takes female roles. They quickly inform the audience that all celebrity voices they perform are theirs, and not recordings of the celebrities. Growing up in Burbank, Calif., as children, they watched their favorite stars and mimicked their every nuance, movement and voices.
The duo applies their own makeup, headpieces, wigs, and garb, which they carefully design and select. Although the accompanying music is pre-recorded, Anthony Edwards exhibits his prowess on the piano, performing seven Stevie Wonder hits, while also accompanying himself flawlessly on the harmonica. Anthony’s makeup, gestures, body language, movements, voice, and instrumentation are uncanny. Keeping in character, he’s led on and off stage by a stagehand. Then dressed in a glittery red-and-white top hat, over-the-top pink and yellow velvety razz-ma-tazz coat, trimmed with huge yellow and rainbow-hued feather boas and black high-heeled boots edged with piano key heels and soles, Anthony rouses the rabble with several of Elton John’s upbeat tunes, banging his plink-a-plink piano, leading the audience in sing-alongs and clapping in time.
He’s magnificent as Italian singer Andrea Bocelli, performing opera and pop tunes in Italian and English, and a stunning duet of “The Prayer” with brother Eddie as Barbra Streisand. In another duet, the duo as Streisand and Neil Diamond are mesmerizing in “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”.
Although Eddie Edwards opens the show with a set as the bubbly, incomparable, divine Miss M, (Bette Midler), as Streisand and Cher he’s delightfully eye- and ear-popping. He dons Streisand-style, conservative, classy gowns, while as Cher, he bursts on stage strutting in her most revealing, outrageous costume and headdress, his actions, voice and mannerisms sublimely accurate. The twins throw in a duet as Sonny and Cher that delighted everyone, even those too young to remember the couple in their heydey.
The Edwards twins’ performance is so exuberant, meticulous and infectious, the audience unabashedly clapped in time, sang along, and applauded appreciatively.
Another uncanny addition to their repertoire is 30-year-old Michael Knight of Woonsocket, RI, who performed a song-and-dance set as Michael Jackson. He slides and glides, kicks,grabs his crotch with his glittery gloved hand, sings, looks and sounds like the late tragic superstar, even up close. Knight said later he has performed as Jackson for the past 12 years, recently joining the Edwards Twins.
In the second act, Anthony provides a kaleidoscope of celebrities, with merely a few props. In an instant, his entire persona switches from Rod Stewart to a tipsy Dean Martin, a high-pitched Barry Gibbs of the BeeGees; Lionel Richie, Tina Turner, Johnny Mathis, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Kermit the Frog (using the Muppets’ puppet), Tom Jones and Neil Diamond. As the twins strut side by side, they provide a comedic snapshot of George Burns and Gracie Allen, then finish gloriously as themselves with “You and Me”.
If you missed this show, don’t fret. These area favorites are performing a Valentine’s Day dinner-cabaret at Hilltop Restaurant in Saugus, and Eddie is returning to Stoneham with six other outstanding female impersonators to perform “Legendary Divas,” March 22-25, when he’ll premiere his impersonation of Celine Dion. Showtimes are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 3,8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. (tickets, $32-$35; senior, Stoneham Theatre discount, $4). For Diva tickets, call Stoneham Theatre at 781-279-2200. For more information on upcoming Edwards Twins gigs, call 702-247-1720, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.theedwardstwins.com