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

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07 Apr 2013

Cover art

"Civilization" from Angels in the Wings, 1947
Stritch studied the drama at Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop, but first attracted notice in a shoestring revue called Angels in the Wings. The show was a surprise success, due in part to the performances of the now long-forgotten Paul and Grace Hartman. Two Qs: Who won the first Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical? Who won the first Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical? A: Paul and Grace Hartman, for Angels in the Wings.

Stritch was given one song, "Civilization" by Bob Hilliard and Carl Sigman, about three educated savages in a bamboo tree who sing "Bongo bongo bongo I don't wanna leave the Congo." Pure nonsense, but Stritch sold it. The show went unrecorded, but 30 years later Stritch sang it on Ben Bagley's "Make Mine Manhattan + Great Revues Revisited" [Painted Smiles]. If you can't find that — and it is rather difficult to find nowadays — Stritch also performs it on the cast album of Elaine Stritch At Liberty [DRG] with seemingly all the energy she possessed 55 years earlier. It isn't quite as pert as the 1977 recording, though, so I prefer the earlier one.

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