Elaine Stritch isn't the only female theatre veteran of a certain age at liberty on the New York stage anymore—since the Off-Broadway opening of her autobiographical solo show, Barbara Cook and Bea Arthur have also commandeered Broadway stages to general acclaim—but she was the first out of the gate and her act remains one of the top draws of the season.
After a couple weeks of previews, beginning Feb. 6, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, a sold-out smash at The Public Theater, officially opens at the Neil Simon Theatre on Feb. 21.
Directed by the Public's producer, George C. Wolfe, "constructed by" John Lahr and "reconstructed by" Stritch, the extended At Liberty ran through Jan. 13 at The Public. The solo show is a journey through Broadway and film actress Stritch's personal and professional life, introducing pals and colleagues such as Brando, Merman, Garland, Piscator, Sondheim and Coward along the way.
Due to the strenuous nature of the performance, which includes songs musical-directed by Rob Bowman and orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, the 77-year-old Stritch performs the show five times a week, 8 PM Wednesday-Saturday and 5 PM Sunday. The Feb. 21 show is at 6:30 PM.
Only 80 performances are scheduled, but it's not hard to see that if Stritch wants it, if the business merits it and if the Tony Awards embrace her, the lady who introduced "The Ladies Who Lunch," will be lunching at the Simon well past the May end of the 2001-2002 season. The Broadway run is produced by John Schreiber, Scott Sanders of Creative Battery, Margo Lion and Robert Cole, in association with Roy Furman and The Public Theater/NYSF.
Tickets range $40-$85. The Neil Simon Theatre, current home of The Music Man, which ends Dec. 30, is at 250 W. 52nd Street. For information, (212) 307-4100.
Elaine Stritch At Liberty opened at The Public Theater Nov. 7 to rave reviews. Previews began Oct. 26. The show broke box office records at The Public for how quickly tickets sold and was extended three times.