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

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14 Apr 2013

Elaine Stritch
Elaine Stritch
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Last week's column was the first of our two-part salute to Broadway's own Elaine Stritch, who will soon pack her bags and retrace her steps back to Michigan. In Part 1, we followed the young hopeful from Detroit to Manhattan, where she found acclaim and weathered two stormy attempts at Broadway stardom. We pick up the tale in 1970, as La Stritch meets all those "Ladies Who Lunch."


"The Ladies Who Lunch" from Company, 1970
Stephen Sondheim's Company, in a way, started the second stage of Stritch's long career. Joanne — the oldest and wryest of Bobby's good and crazy friends — was an ensemble role. You could call her the most important of the featured players, by virtue of her material, but she is truly one of 11. She does have the juiciest scene and the juiciest song. People have been singing "The Ladies Who Lunch" since it poured forth from Sondheim's piano bench in 1970, sure; but it really does belong to Elaine. Just listen.

Stritch went to London with Company in 1972 and stayed, mostly, for the rest of the decade. The visit was extended by the U.K. sitcom "Two's Company," the other one of the two being Donald Sinden. This began in 1975 and ran for four seasons; it is available on video from Acorn Media, and the two stars — as an American mystery writer living in London and her long-suffering butler — make things quite enjoyable. While we are dealing with Stritch's life on cast albums, let us asterisk the theme song "Two's Company" (music by Denis King, lyrics by Sammy Cahn). It is prime Stritch, at the very top of her game.


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