By Ben Rimalower
15 Feb 2014
Without a doubt, the number one essential Elaine Stritch recording, Elaine Stritch at Liberty captures the star at her salty, straight-shooting best. There are hilarious, enlightening and moving stories aplenty perfectly plotted into the evening, which also includes some of the grand dame's signature songs within the set list. Besides gems like "The Ladies Who Lunch," "Broadway Baby" and "Why Do The Wrong People Travel?" Stritch puts her indelible stamp on a host of numbers from shows she hasn't done, including "The Party's Over," "Something Good" and a heartbreaking medley of "But Not For Me" and "If Love Were All." The highlights of the recording, though, are definitely the extended sequences integrating singing and monologue, like the hilarious "There's No Business Like Show Business" opening and an inspired rendition of "Zip," elucidating the tremendous obstacles Stritch faced commuting to New Haven for the out-of-town tryout of Pal Joey while standing by for Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam on Broadway. This indispensable trove of theatre history achieves the meta feat of creating new history in that the piece itself is the ultimate jewel in the crown of Stritch's Broadway reign.Continued...