A fabulous stage production I had the pleasure of seeing LIVE!
There are few stage legends left in our world today who have so much to tell, and Elaine Stritch is one of them. While not a household name to people, her face and voice may be. Recent movie goers recall her as Winona Ryder's loving but emotionally distant grandmother in "Autumn in New York"; as the crabby Ms. Crock in the otherwise medicore "Screwed"; and as Dyan Cannon's crotchety but lovable mom in "Out to Sea". However, to those who have an appreciation for the theater, she is, to put it bluntly, one of the most riviting performers I have ever seen, on stage, on TV, and in films. I had the priviledge of seeing Ms. Stritch this past February in her one-woman show at the Neil Simon in New York. (It is scheduled to run through May of 2002, so if you are in NY before then, do not miss it!) Let's just say it was a priority on the top of my list, even more so than visiting the remains of the World Trade Center. It is for more reasons than the shere entertainment value of Ms. Stritch's presence; It is for the reason we go on; we are survivors, and so is she. Elaine takes no qualms in publicly discussing her battle with alcoholism; While others have done as much and made it seem like voyeurism, she takes us in to her bosom, and embraces us with the love and affection of an Auntie Mame who has had the life, and lived to tell about it. Her wisdom, humor, and heart make this performance one for the history books. Years from now, people will be remembering this as the theatrical event of 2002. I did not know it aired on PBS in January until I came across the listing on here, and I hope that they repeat it; However, had I known, I would have taped it, and saved it for after I had seen it.
In my movie reviews, I try to give a thorough summary of the plot without giving away key elements; I cannot do that here because to say too much is spoiling a delightful surprise. To say too little would be difficult, because what do I choose? I will say this: if you are familiar with Ms. Stritch's film work and a few of her Broadway recordings (such as "Company" where she sang the legendary "Ladies Who Lunch"), you already know a little bit about her. She sings "Broadway Baby" just as she lived it, from her way up the ladder, to some surprising encounters with future celebrities, to understudying the first lady of the American musical theater, to how she was perceived by theatrical community as "difficult", and to finally, how she finally conquored her alcoholism. And to go into "I'm Still Here" (which has been sung by some of the best), she deserves that honor; She truly is. Ms. Stritch, I longed to see you in a live theatrical event, and you gave me an evening of live theater that I will never forget.
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