[Dixielandjazz] ELAINE STRITCH

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 7 07:02:50 PST 2005

Not Dixieland, but surely OKOM. surely "show business" and surely a
wonderful look at an 80 year old performer who is still the life of the
party. If you are unfamiliar with this lady, google search for her.

Her stories about her almost liaison with Frank Sinatra, and a "first date"
with fellow acting student Marlon Brando are priceless.

When she finishes sharpening up her latest act for the Cafe Carlyle, it will
be a MUST SEE for any of us over 60, and a SHOULD SEE for kids.

Steve Barbone

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic
hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.
There's also a negative side". . . . Hunter S Thompson


The Show Isn't Finished, but a Trouper Isn't Daunted
When exactly do you suppose show business and life merged into the
bittersweet comedy Elaine Stritch has made of her life? Striding onto the
stage of the Allen Room at Frederick P. Rose Hall on Friday evening in a
black top, black tights and high heels, she turned the place into her living
room, where she presided, the life of a party that has continued for

Although Ms. Stritch dropped the word scary to describe her nervousness at
trying out an unfinished cabaret act before a paying audience, her fans sat
rapt, devouring every word, note and fluttering hand gesture in her master
class in seat-of-the-pants showmanship.

Her work in progress, the season's final event in the cabaret part of
Lincoln Center's American Songbook series, already has a title, "Elaine
Stritch at Home at the Carlyle." It will be officially unveiled in
mid-September at the Cafe Carlyle, downstairs from her apartment in the

With its nuggets of show business lore plucked from a trove of backstage
memories, the show is at once an epilogue to her Broadway triumph, "Elaine
Stritch at Liberty," and the beginning of a new chapter that incorporates a
dozen songs previously unconnected to her. As she and her accompanist, Rob
Bowman, dove into the turbulence of Stephen Sondheim's "Could I Leave You?"
Ms. Stritch demonstrated the pluck of a performer not about to rest on her
laurels; she ranks high on the list of octogenarian candidates for
sky-diving lessons. (Yes, she turned 80 on Feb. 2.)

Time does fly, however. And when Ms. Stritch wondered how many in the
audience had seen the original Broadway production of "My Fair Lady," there
was only a smattering of applause. That production, she says, convinced her
that Rex Harrison was the greatest actor of the 20th century.

Harrison, Noël Coward, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Judy Garland and John
Gielgud paraded through the star-struck, often self-deprecating stories of
her gin-soaked salad days. She told the horror story of her arranged date
with Frank Sinatra at a marinated dinner given by Tony Curtis and Janet
Leigh that culminated with her ejection when the Chairman of the Board
shouted, "Get her out of here!" She also recalled the welling-up moment in
Washington after a Kennedy Center Honors celebration when she bonded with
President Bush on the subject of recovery.

In her riskiest maneuver, Ms. Stritch delivered Dorothy Parker's story "The
Waltz" as a dramatic monologue and, based on the audience response, decided
to abandon it. Of the dozen songs, the most developed included "He Had
Refinement" (from "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"), "Dear World" and the Cy
Coleman-Carolyn Leigh love song "It Amazes Me," which she directed at the
audience. A standing ovation showed that the feeling was mutual. 

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