Broadway's favorite self-described "existential problem in tights" is about to pack up the luggage, la-la-la, and move all the way back to Michigan. Elaine Stritch, that is, who arrived here in 1944 and is now giving up her digs at the Carlyle Hotel. Which she celebrated with one last star-studded week at the ground floor café April 2-6. (Read the Playbill report here.) There's nothing like going out to packed houses, filled with friends and fans.
Retirement, or so it seems, at the age of 88. Understandable. Eight-shows-a-week can be rough, even for a youngster of 70. There are times when even a 20-something doesn't feel like dragging themselves in for that night's show, but of course the work ethic of members of the gilded profession always wins out. (Remember the days when everyone played eight performances a week? Even if they had a little sniffle?) When you are in your 80s, though, there surely are some days when you really don't feel up to getting into costume and makeup and singin' and dancin' until 10:45 PM. Eight times a week.
And so Ms. Stritch is throwing in the makeup towel, figuratively. Does this mean retirement? Perhaps — but then again, perhaps not. As long as this lady can remember staging and read cue cards, one suspects that she will be keen to hear the places call. Sitting at home pasting pages into scrapbooks is not for her, I'd guess — although she'd probably be a standout at bingo. Health willing, she'll sooner or later find herself taking juicy featured roles in film and TV land like a latter-day Helen Hayes.
As Stritch takes her leave, for now, we are left with recollections of various performances — some of us with more than others — to remember her by, and a relatively small bunch of cast albums to keep on listening to. Upon consideration of the latter, I thought I'd thumb through my CDs and select a couple of handful of tracks that should perk up listeners and simultaneously give 'em a representative slice of Elaine.
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