Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|George Gershwin, Jule Styne, John Campo|
Elaine Stritch - At Liberty (2002 Original Broadway Production)
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Elaine Stritch is a legend and she knows it. And so she came up with a whole one-woman show about the best topic she could think of: her life in the theater. And what a trip it's been. From Ethel Merman to Noel Coward, Str... more »
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Elaine Stritch is a legend and she knows it. And so she came up with a whole one-woman show about the best topic she could think of: her life in the theater. And what a trip it's been. From Ethel Merman to Noel Coward, Stritch has worked with some of the greatest names to grace the American stage, and she has anecdotes about all of them (most are included on this recording). In this show, she hits all the marks with the acuity of a seasoned pro who's seen it all and whose love for the theater remains undiluted. Stritch is not a traditionally pretty singer (those gravelly pipes!), but she absolutely knows how to give life to a song, extracting the last drop of meaning, dropping pauses for effect with deadly accuracy. Sondheim's "Ladies Who Lunch" and "Broadway Baby" will be hers forever, and a case could be made for the hilarious "Zip" (from Pal Joey) and the obscure, spectacularly politically incorrect "Civilization" (from the revue Angel in the Wings) as well. Fittingly, this two-CD set includes "I'm Still Here," which may well be Stritch's motto. If you're looking for a concise yet bewitching history of the musical, this is it. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
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A Memorable and Touching Performance!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the first questions I imagine many people would ask about buying this CD is WHY would anyone buy a CD to HEAR Elaine Stritch sing? Let's face it...she's no Bernadette, Audra or Heather Headley. She's one hell of a performer, that's for sure, so one might wonder whether Elaine's performance is best preserved in a more visual format, such as a DVD or VHS. I too had hesitation when I considered purchasing this CD.
However, after the first 1 minute of the first disc, I knew I was in for something uniquely special: the wit of the opening sets the tone for what is going to be one entertaining journey through one woman's life and career. This is not a cabaret performance...it is truly a one-woman show during which you follow Elaine through the ups and downs of her career. You laugh with her as she recounts absolutely hysterical anecdotes about her work (such as her original understanding of the Sondheim lyric for "Ladies Who Lunch). And as you witness Elaine reliving her evolution, you feel compassion and are brought closer to her.
I was not fortunate enough to see this show in NYC, but from what I understand, there are approximately 15 minutes from the show that are missing from the CD, which is a shame since this is a 2-disc set, and there is plenty of remaining space on each disc. I imagine this could be a huge negative for anyone who saw the show and wanted something tangible to preserve their experience. However, not having seen the show, I didn't feel that this recording was lacking in anything other than 15 more minutes of glorious Elaine.
Her singing may not be a reason to buy this CD, but this is one remarkable performance (worthy of the special event Tony Award she won for this show). And truth be told, her singing doesn't distract one bit from the power of her performance."
She's Still Here
BDormuth | Lafayette Hill, Pa United States | 04/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Late in the second act of "Elaine Stritch At Liberty", Elaine Stritch tells a story about an appearance just after she gave up drinking. "The first time I ever came out here alone, a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and I don't even like to think about the fear I was experiencing in the wings that night before I went on. And out of the blue Michael Feinstein squeezes my hand. `You'll stop shows again, Elaine, not tonight. Tonight, just get through it.'" Michael Feinstein was right about stopping shows again. Elaine stops this show cold three times with "Why Do the Wrong People Travel," "I'm Still Here," and "Stephen Sondheim's three act play, `The Ladies Who Lunch.'" At 78 Elaine commands the stage for two hours and can still belt them out. In between, she recounts "the ups and downs of an actress in the American theater."The first act is played for fun. Said Marlon Brando after a bad date: "I want two things from you, Elaine: silence and distance." Then at age 20, because she looked 40, Elaine understudied for Ethel Merman in "Call Me Madam" in New York, but she also had the part of Melba in "Pal Joey" in New Haven. Here, between the lines of her "Pal Joey" song "Zip", she explains the logistics:"Day 3, Wednesday, matinee day, Imperial Theater, first show, half hour, 2 o'clock, check with Merman, Merritt Parkway, New Haven, Schubert Theater, (I adore the great Confucius / and the lines of luscious Lucius / Zip, I am so eclectic), Schubert Theater, New Haven, Merritt Parkway, New York. Second show, half hour, 7:30, check with Merman, Merritt Parkway, New Haven, Schubert Theater, (I don't care for either Mickey / Mouse or Rooney makes me sicky / Zip, I'm a little hectic.) Schubert Theater, Merritt Parkway, New York. Day 6, Saturday, another matinee day. Merman, Merritt, New Haven, Schubert. Schubert, New Haven, Meritt, New York. Merman, Merritt, New Haven, Schubert. Schubert, New Haven, Meritt, New York. And you wonder why I drank?!" Elaine works through this - and much more - at a breathless pace and never drops a syllable.As she worked on a sitcom, there was a phone call from Noel Coward: "Stritchie! I have written a musical for New York in the fall. The musical is called "Sail Away". There's a part in it for you. It is not the lead. But it is a very, very, very, very good part.""Oh my God, Mr. Coward, what if I'm not free, what if they pick up this sitcom in the fall?" "Stritchie, I have seen the sitcom."
No one else ever did, but instead Broadway got to hear Noel Coward's "Why Do the Wrong People Travel" as only cruise director Stritch could sing it: "What explains this mass mania to leave Pennsylvania, and clack around like flocks of geese demanding dry martinis on the isles of Greece? On the smallest streets where the gourmets meet they invariably fetch up. And it's hard to make them accept a steak that isn't served rare and smeared with ketchup. Millions of tourists are churning up the gravel as they gaze at St. Peter's dome. Why oh why do the wrong people travel when the right people stay back home?".The second act starts with the 1970 NY Times interview that resulted in Hal Prince's call and recollections of "Company" - discover Rosalind Russell's nickname - but it quickly becomes much more serious. The world loses Noel Coward and Elaine loses her beloved husband, taken by cancer after only 10 years of marriage. But the great tragedy and triumph is the drinking. "I'm sore as hell that I had to go through what I had to go through to get through what I had to get through. It almost all happened without me." Nevertheless, she was there and can now sing "I'm Still Here." She is indeed.While singing "There's No Business Like Show Business," Elaine interrupts herself: " 'Next day on your dressing room they've hung a star . . .' There's good news and there's bad news. Good news: I have got a sensational acceptance speech for a Tony. Bad news: I've had it for 45 years." She'd better brush it up: it won't be long before she finally gets to use it.Act 1 (CD 1): 1 hour, 8 minutes. Act 2 (CD2): 47 minutes."
A Legend Sizzles
D. Clancy | Portland, Or USA | 04/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Elaine Stritch is an actress who should be seen on stage to be fully appreciated. I have not been fortunate enough to see "Elaine Stritch At Large", but I did see her in Sondheim's "Company". It is impossible to define her talent. It is so vast and her energy and drive are mesmerizing.
With this said I can highly recommend the cast album (and she is the only cast member) of her latest Broadway venture. What you hear is a fascinating life story told with complete candor.
Elaine Stritch has always been a "Broadway Baby." Her career was primarily in the theatre with a few forays into motion pictures and an aborted TV series. Most of her Broadway musicals were sub standard in quality and usually not big hits. However Stritch, as most friends and colleagues call her, always dominated the stage and held the audience and critics in her hand.
If you listen to this CD you will understand why. She tells the story of her life with songs from some of the shows she was in. Some are absolutely hilarious. Her relationship with Ben Gazzara, dealing with Ethel Merman in "Call Me Madam", her adoration for Rock Hudson. She left Ben Gazzara for Hudson not knowing, of course, that he was gay. "And we all know what a lousy mistake that was", she says.
She tells us of her 10 year marriage to John Bay and the happiness he brought her. Her years of drinking while on stage are truly heart breaking. But Stritch doesn't play for tears. She's a gutsy lady who lays it on the line. And it truly takes guts to do the show she is doing.
You'll laugh, you'll cry and you will cheer. Elaine Stritch is the kind of legend Broadway no longer has. Long may she rule"