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

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07 Apr 2013

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"Who's Been Sitting in My Chair?" and "I Never Know When" from Goldilocks, 1958
Stritch had what was arguably her finest role — as Grace, the owner of the diner — in William Inge's 1955 drama, Bus Stop. But that wasn't a musical. She got her first chance at stardom in 1958 with Goldilocks, with music by Leroy Anderson and book and lyrics by Walter & Jean Kerr. Walter, who was better known as a theatre critic for the Herald Tribune, also directed; Agnes de Mille choreographed. Goldilocks had several charms — including a sometimes sprightly score and winning performances from the secondary couple, Pat Stanley and Russell Nype (both of whom won themselves Tonys in the process). But the show, a supposed spoof of the silent film era, was done in by the material. Struggling to salvage the show, they fired one of the two stars during the tryout — not Stritch, the other one. But to no avail; the show died after 20 weeks. Even so, the original cast album [Sony Broadway] gives us two lovely servings of Elaine-as-leading-lady.

"Who's Been Sitting in My Chair?" draws on the old Goldilocks tale — hence the show's title — and included a dance for the leading lady and a stuffed bear. "I Never Know When," on the other hand, is a dead-of-the-night torch song, and one which deserves more of a life than it has had. Stritch is smoky and wistful and immensely winning. Before you leave Goldilocks, if you happen to stop by to hear these two tracks, make sure you listen to the perky overture by Phil Lang (with sections by Anderson). And the big dance number "The Pussy Foot," which is so delectable that it won Ms. Stanley her Tony.

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