He Ain't Streisand, He's My Brother
The Borscht-Belt Stage Magic of the Edwards Twins
Like many theatrical young men born in the 1960s, Anthony and Eddie Edwards were inspired by the great TV divas of the '70s: Cher on The Sonny & Cher Show, Lily Tomlin on Laugh-In. Unlike many of those other young men, the Burbank-born Edwards brothers were encouraged to become professional entertainers by one of their beloved TV divas: Carol Burnett urged them to fuse their musical abilities to create "Celebrities on Stage," the celebrity-impersonation extravaganza the Edwards Twins have been touring around the country for the past decade. (The Burnett story in a nutshell: She first saw Anthony Edwards impersonate her in a show in Toronto, then she hired Eddie Edwards to impersonate Bette Midler in one of her own shows, and now all three are chums.)
Subtitled Two Brothers, 100 Celebrities!, the Edwards Twins' show kicked off its Seattle summer residency at Julia's on Broadway this past weekend, landing on opening night as a well-polished chunk of borscht-belt stage magic. Beyond mere look-alikes, the Edwards Twins are both visual and vocal illusionists, with Eddie Edwards channeling the divas (Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Cher) and Anthony Edwards approximating various men (Elton John, Neil Diamond, Sonny Bono). Of course, nearly anyone can impersonate Sonny Bono—just slap on a mustache and croak—but performing live as Barbra Streisand takes some chops, and Eddie Edwards's seemingly effortless emulation of Streisand's buttery vocals was the musical high point of the show.
Eddie Edwards's Streisand is also the majority of the show—the "100 Celebrities!" will apparently stretch throughout the two-month run, with each week's installment bringing a half-dozen to the stage. On opening weekend, these celebs were Sonny and Cher, Streisand, John, Andrea Bocelli, and a handful of vocal-only impersonations undertaken by Anthony while Eddie de-Chered himself. A quick-moving show it is not, with sets by John, Streisand, and Cher lumbering on for five or more songs each, with diminishing returns. Still, there's something undeniably charming about seeing two borscht-belt lifers plying their well-honed trades in your neighborhood, and I'd be happy if this goofy, old-timey show found the Seattle audience it craves. But I'm not going back to check.