What A Drag!

Lifebeats feature

The Edwards Twins started an extended run at the Odeum Theatre in East Greenwich Monday night and pretty much blew the roof off the joint. If you are one of those people who would love to see a fabulous Vegas-style show but never had the chance, this one is for you.

The identical twins are widely acknowledged as the best and most varied impersonation act to come out of Las Vegas in decades. Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel and dozens and of other voices parade through the small theater like a who’s who of popular entertainment. The two musical brothers, with aid of elaborate taped arrangements, pull this off all by themselves.

“Neil Diamond came to one of our shows and told the people he was with that I was lip-syncing his music,” said Anthony Edwards, who does Diamond. “He couldn’t believe it when I stopped suddenly and started talking.”

For Eddie Edwards, being accused of that sort of cheating is music to his ears.

“When you do it so well that the stars themselves are fooled, then you know you’ve done something special,” he said. “We like it when people are skeptical like that because it means we are doing our job well.”

Unlike so many impersonators, the Edwards twins are not attempting to parody or mock the performers. Their approach is that of paying homage to their subjects and their total immersion into the role is uncanny. As much personality as the two men have off stage, they prefer to subsume their own egos and become the people they portray, a process that Anthony admits was more complicated than he thought when he started the act about 10 years ago.

“I do so many different people that I had a few instances where I got confused,” admitted Anthony. “When we were first starting out I remember a friend telling me that he heard a little Elton getting into my Neil and I was pretty upset at the time, but that doesn’t happen anymore.”

Eddie Andrews said the highest compliment he ever got was when Barbra Streisand saw the show and told a friend how impressed she was.

“‘Of all the people who I’ve seen try to do me, he was the best,’ she said. You can’t do better than that,” said Eddie, who also does an astonishing impression of Cher as part of their two-hour show. But his Bette Midler is almost scary. Midler is a separate kind of performer and a real challenge to impersonators, mostly because her act is a bit of a parody of performers just like herself, a subtle achievement that she has mastered. She has become famous for not acting famous and her salty asides have been what made her all too human and appealing to audiences. Eddie Edwards captures her banter perfectly. Remarking on her clothes, Bette/Eddie says:

“My father would be furious if he saw me in this outfit…It belongs to him…These slacks are like a cheap hotel…No ballroom.”

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