The Los Angeles Times have many wonderful entertainment journalists, the sort that have you reading a review of something you’d never want to see. Christopher Smith writes about Elaine Stritch’s latest venture at Manhattan’s vast Town Hall who, at 86, has still got what it takes. Here is part of Smith’s sensitive and sensible review:
Wearing her trademark man’s long-sleeved white dress shirt, black pantyhose and sensible heels, she ambled out and, fronting a six-piece combo, launched into “I Feel Pretty” from “West Side Story.” She pretty much owned the joint from that entrance on.
It was an evening of Sondheim, whose catalogue Stritch has turned into a Quixote-like pilgrimage to notable success in the past few years. The 12-song set was made up of selections one would expect, such as “Send in the Clowns” and “The Ladies Who Lunch,” and more obscure chestnuts like “A Parade in Town.” Interestingly, and perhaps wisely, her almost predictable rendering of “I’m Still Here,” which racks up views on You Tube from her performances at Sondheim salutes and at the White House for President Obama and his family, was not here.
Stritch was aided and abetted by patient band leader and pianist Rob Bowman, ever at the ready to feed her a phrase or shore her up when a brief moment of stage fright occurred.
If this sounds a bit sad or brave, that’d be getting it wrong since Stritch herself has no interest in any of that. Her upfront, ongoing declarations of the frailties of memory — “let’s push on to the next song and see if one of us can finish it” — were served up in an idiosyncratic mix of old-fashioned patter and perfect timing.
Photo: Elaine Stritch by Nathalie Van der Wende