As expected, Elaine Stritch's autobiographical Off-Broadway show At Liberty has extended. Performances, once set to end on Nov. 25, will run until Dec. 30. The extension was announced mere hours after the Public Theater's official opening on Nov. 7. (Previews began Oct. 26.)
The month of new dates will run on a limited schedule of five shows a week. Stritch will take the stage Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 5 PM, for a total of 25 new shows. The New York Times reports (Nov. 9) that producers John Schreiber and Margo Lion are also considering a transfer of the show to Broadway or London, with Schreiber replying that any decision would rest with the show's star.
Liberty is molded out of the raw material of Stritch's crowded life on and off the stage. The text was "constructed" by The New Yorker drama critic John Lahr and then "reconstructed" by Stritch. Lahr is the author of several book on the theatre, including “Prick Up Your Ears, “Show and Tell,” “Notes on a Cowardly Lion” (about his father, actor and comedian Bert Lahr) and a biography of Noel Coward. He has also dabbled in the theatre, penning a stage adaptation of the film, “The Manchurian Candidate.” Lahr is a recipient of the George Jean Nathan Award for dramatic criticism.
Stritch's career is strewn with landmark performances, including her turns in Pal Joey, William Inge's Bus Stop, Noel Coward's Sail Away, and, of course, Stephen Sondheim's Company, in which her fame was sealed with a renowned delivery of "The Ladies Who Lunch." Since the Sondheim performance, Stritch has evolved into something of a living legend, regularly profiled, parodied by Forbidden Broadway and generally celebrated for just being herself.
In the piece, Stritch will discuss the above credits (no doubt with salty humor and a sandpaper voice), as well as lesser know aspects of her life, including the 15 years she spent living in England following her performance in Company; her job covering Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam; her early days in New York studying with Erwin Piscator and dating Marlon Brando; and her aborted engagement to film actor Gig Young (“They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”). The show has scenic design by Riccardo Hernández, lighting design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, costume design by Paul Tazewell, sound design by Acme Sound Partners, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick and musical direction by Rob Bowman.
Wolfe is coming off his successful staging of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog, which is expected on Broadway this spring.