Josh Rittberg

Staff Writer

After the strike this week, students needed some laughter and they needed an escape. The students who attended The One Fabulous Dame fundraiser on the night of Friday, October 21st got all of that and more.

The event was organized by Delaware native and Millersville Alumna Dr. Renee Genbauffe O’ Leary. Dr. O’ Leary has worked for 50 years teaching science to children, and she currently volunteers her time as the primary grade science teacher at Holy Angels School in Delaware. Along with teaching, she also has been an active member of The Chapel Street Players in Newark, Delaware.

It was there where she met Scott Mason, who serves as the president of The Chapel Street Players. Along with being president, Mason also is known for his impersonation of Dame Edna. Dr. O’ Leary learned that the Millersville theater department needed money for new equipment. When she was brainstorming acts to raise money, she instantly thought of Scott Mason’s Dame Edna. Dr. O’ Leary made sure that all of the tickets sold for the event went directly to Millersville theater. Not only did she provide entertainment to the community of Millersville, she also gave back to her alma matter.

Dame Edna was a character created originally by Barry Humphries. Edna is an Australian housewife, who is known for her purple hair and over-the-top persona. Ever since The Dame started performing in the 1960s, she has grown into a worldwide phenomenon who is loved by millions. When Barry Humphries decided to hang up the wig and glasses for good, he knew he needed a successor.

Scott Mason has been impersonating Dame Edna for over a decade, and in February of 2010, Scott Mason had the honor of auditioning as Dame Edna for Barry Humphries himself. That audition earned Mason the title of “Honorary Understudy to Dame Edna”, he earned the title over many other contenders. Since then he has performed as Dame Edna for everyone from, New York theater critic Michael Musto to Celebrity Chef Rachael Ray, and on October 21, he was ready to bring his act to Millersville University.

The fundraiser itself was one for the ages. The audience at Friday night’s performance was a diverse crowd that was made up of professors, Alumni members, Millersville students and members of the drama department.  The show opened with a thoughtful introduction by Dr. Diane Zimmerman Umble, who is the Dean of College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

The warmup act of the night was the very talented cast of Miscast, who will be performing at The Rafters Theater on November 4 at 8:00pm and November 5 at 2:00pm. Their performance got the whole audience dancing in their seats and ready for the evening of entertainment in store for them.

Next was the main event of the night: Dame Edna, who burst onto the stage to rapturous applause from the night’s audience.

Scott Mason was a joy to watch as Dame Edna. When Mason stepped on stage, he disappeared completely into the character. Dame Edna opened up the show by cracking jokes about the strike at Millersville University, leaving the audience in stiches. The material for the rest of the evening consisted mainly of hysterical stories of Dame Edna’s life, but plenty of audience participation and Millersville jokes were sprinkled into the performance.

Near the conclusion of the fundraiser, the audience was treated to a spectacular performance from the cast of Spring Awakening, which plays at The Winter Center on November 10-12 at 8:00pm, and also on November 13 at 2:00pm. Their medley of the songs Mama Who Bore Me , and The Bitch of Living, blew the audience away and left theatergoers wanting more.

Overall, The One Fabulous Dame fundraiser, was an incredibly successful evet that not only raised money for Millersville’s Drama Department, but also gave the audience a much needed night of comedy after a stressful week.