So when I went to see At Liberty, I didn’t really know all that much about Elaine Stritch. I knew her show had won the Tony and had seen her attempt at giving a Tony acceptance speech. I also owned the Company OBCR, so I was fully aware of her “Ladies Who Lunch” performance. However, I didn’t even realize she was Parthy on my Show Boat CD until she mentioned it in the show. But that was about it.
It took about two minutes before I completely fell in love with her.
First of all, you gotta love someone who opens themselves up like that. The truth is that we all do stupid things—whether we are 30 or 60—that we look back upon in great regret, like Stritch’s embarrassing newspaper interview that preceded a call by Harold Prince to join Company or her awesome Golden Girls audition. Her openness is sharing those vulnerable moments made her endearing and made the show a must-see/must-own on DVD. In some ways, the show was as cathartic for her audience as I’m sure it was for Elaine Stritch herself.
You love her most, however, because she can really sell the comedy and the song. It’s a very unique style of comedy, but she nails it on the head and pulls every possible laugh out of you. And her singing, which is wonderfully theatrical, is so suited for character-driven pieces.
My most recent contact with Stritch’s talents has been on the DVDs of the Britcom Two’s Company, in which she is hilarious. The first three seasons, in particular, are so incredibly well-written, and Stritch, playing an American writer in London in a love/hate relationship with her narcissistic butler, is endearing and memorable.
It would be great to see Elaine Stritch take on another role in a book musical. I don’t know anything about the stamina required for such an undertaking or the physical capabilities of people in their retirement years, but when you have someone of such unique giftings, it’s a certifiable shame when they’re not put to use more often.
the Broadway Mouth
September 4, 2007