ON THE RECORD: Everybody Rise! The Essential Elaine Stritch Show Recordings, Part Two

By Steven Suskin
14 Apr 2013

Cover art

"Broadway Baby" from Follies in Concert, 1985
No, Stritch didn't appear in Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's Follies; there was no role that fit. Hattie Walker, the character who sings "Broadway Baby," otherwise merely steps in and out of the proceedings. Not a profitable way of spending the evening for our Elaine. But when Follies was performed in concert at Avery Fisher Hall in 1985 for two performances with as close to an all-star cast as you're likely to find around Broadway, Stritch fit right in. Yes, Ethel Shutta, an authentic Ziegfeld star who originated the role in 1971 at the age of 74 — and who died in 1976 — was incomparable in the song. But Stritch does herself proud on the recorded Follies in Concert [Masterworks Broadway].

A Broadway baby, perhaps; but Stritch's personal vagaries (fueled by alcohol, as she has so readily discussed) kept her in limbo and away from Broadway — for over 20 years, from her final performance in Company until Hal Prince (producer/director of Company) gave her another chance in his 1994 revival of Show Boat. Stritch acquitted herself well, following up with a smashingly good dramatic performance in the 1996 Lincoln Center Theater revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance.