Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Keeping Them in Stritches for 60 Years
While she may not possess the universal household name enjoyed by movie actresses, stage veteran Elaine Stritch is among theatre's most venerable, vulnerable stars of the past century. Just ask any student of 20th Century American theatre who they'd name among the greatest musical theatre actresses of the past 100 years, and the 81 year old Detroit native would likely be named alongside such greats as Fanny Brice, Gertrude Lawrence, Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Gwen Verdon, Dorothy Loudon, Angela Lansbury and Chita Rivera.
Indeed, when you consider that her very first Broadway show was 60 years ago in the 1946 production of Loco and included turns in such renowned productions as Pal Joey (1952), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1963, as a replacement for Uta Hagen), and 1994's Showboat revival (my first, wonderful opportunity to see Stritch perform live), it's easy to understand why she has few peers.
Now, according to Variety's David Benedict, Stritch's legendary star will be shining in the spotlight yet again with a newly announced London production by Howard Panter for Ambassador Theatre Group. The show will be based upon the celebrated writings of Nöel Coward, who first worked with Stritch in the 1961 production of Sail Away for which Stritch received a 1962 Tony nomination. The new production will reportedly be built entirely around Stritch. After a December debut in the West End, it will then transfer to Broadway.
Remarkably enough, aside from the Best Special Theatrical Event Tony bestowed on her captivating autobiographical show Elaine Stritch At Liberty in 2002 (for which she was famously cut-off in her televised remarks), Stritch herself has never won a Tony. She has been nominated a total of four times: Bus Stop (1956), the aforementioned Sail Away, Company (1970) and A Delicate Balance (1996).
I believe theatre lovers should make every attempt to witness important actors and actresses whenever there's an opportunity (and before it's too late). I can guarantee you that I'll make every effort to see Elaine Stritch once again.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).