Barry Humphries

About Barry Humphries

Australian comedian, actor and satirist, Barry Humphries (17 February 1934 – 22 April 2023) was best known for playing his legendary alter ego Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson.

Barry Humphries’s previous theatre and screen roles

Barry Humphries was born in Melbourne, Australia and moved to London in the 1960s. He became a great friend of the British comedy scene including Peter Cook, Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller, Dudley Moore, Spike Milligan and Willie Rushton. His enormously successful and varied career spanning eight decades, has seen him perform as a comedian, actor and satirist on stage and screen. In addition, he has worked as a script writer and was a frequent contributor to the satirical magazine Private Eye, of which Peter Cook was publisher.

Throughout his career Barry Humphries has appeared in numerous West End stage productions including the musicals Oliver! and Maggie May, by Lionel Bart, and in stage and radio productions by his friend Spike Milligan. In 1967 his friendship with Cook and Moore led to his first film role, a cameo as “Envy” in the hit film Bedazzled starring Cook and Moore with Eleanor Bron and directed by Stanley Donen.

Barry Humphries was a regular contributor to The Late Show on the BBC, but carved his own path performing as Edna Everage in his one-man satirical stage revues. In addition he developed his alter egos Les Patterson and Sandy Stone.

Throughout the 1970s Barry Humphries appeared in numerous supporting or cameo roles including, Percy’s Progress (1974), David Baker’s The Great Macarthy (1975) and Bruce Beresford’s Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974) in which Edna was made a Dame by then Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.

Barry Humphries and Weimar Cabaret

In 2018 Humphries returned to London’s Barbican Centre for a strictly limited season of 22 performances in his critically acclaimed Weimar Cabaret. The concert featured international cabaret sensation Meow Meow and was accompanied by Aurora Orchestra, led by Satu Vänskä.

Songs by Kurt Weill included The Threepenny Opera’s Pirate Jenny, plus the lost music of Krenek, Schulhoff, Toch, Brand, and Grosz.

The Weimar Cabaret first appeared in 2016 with a brief run at the Cadogan Hall followed by performances at the Edinburgh International Festival. The performance is a celebration of Humphries’ lifelong fascination and passion for the music of the Weimar Republic, the German state that existed in the inter-war period between Germany’s defeat in World War I in 1918 and Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. This period of political, economic and social change gave rise to a cultural explosion of ideas across music, art, drama and literature with many Jewish artists central to this new artistic movement.

Humphries awareness of this period began after discovering a collection of sheet music of composers banned by the Third Reich, including Erich Korngold, Kurt Weill and Ernst Krenek in a Melbourne book shop as a teenager in the 1940’s. Long fascinated by the period’s cultural defiance, experimentalism and unique mix of jazz and classical music, Barry Humphries narrates on stage a very personal journey and obsession with the music of this artistically fertile and experimental period of history. The internationally acclaimed performer Meow Meow joins Barry on stage bringing to life some of the iconic musical numbers of the period by some of its leading composers including Kurt Weill, Ernst Krenek, Erwin Schulhoff, Ernst Toch and Mischa Spoliansky.

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