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

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07 Apr 2013

Cover art

"Zip" from Pal Joey, 1952
Stritch graduated to a steady job in 1950 as standby to Ethel Merman in the original Broadway company of Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam. Which meant not performing the Irving Berlin score, as Merman was steady as a rock. (Sniffles? Flu? Severe illness? Merman did not believe in calling in sick.) Stritch — who was 17 years younger than Merman — did get to play the role for 50 weeks when she took out the national tour.

Just before the tour, she had a featured role in Jule Styne's 1952 revival of Rodgers & Hart's Pal Joey. She played Melba, the newspaper reporter who comes on for a scene and a song. "Zip" — relating a supposed interview with ecdysiast Gypsy Rose Lee — has always been one of the highlights of the show. Stritch's rendition is, not surprisingly, raucous and borders on strip tease. You can find it on the 1952 cast album of Pal Joey [Capitol].

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