The news perhaps comes as no surprise: Elaine Stritch at Liberty, the popular, one woman-show with one set and minimal costume and lighting demands, has returned its Broadway investment.
The Neil Simon Theatre production, which closed its limited run on May 27, was capitalized at $1.25 million.
At Liberty began life as an Off-Broadway outing at the Public Theater last fall. Widespread praise and a demand for tickets catapulted the production to Broadway, where it began performances Feb. 6. Stritch gave the last regular performance of the autobiographical show on May 26. The May 27 show was a benefit for the Actors' Fund.
Stritch, now 77, commenced her long season of praise and adulation on Oct. 26, 2001, when At Liberty—which was "constructed" by New York drama critic John Lahr, and then "reconstructed" by Stritch, and directed by George C. Wolfe—began previews at the Public Theater's Newman Theater. The show was quickly identified as one of the best and most tantalizing attractions of the year. It was also the fall's most highly sought after ticket; the Off-Broadway run, which extended three times, sold out. It finally closed on Jan. 13 and then reopened at Broadway's Neil Simon on Feb. 6. And then began the onslaught of prizes, awards and honors (most of which Stritch did not pick up in person, opting to preserve her strength for the nearly three-hour show; she sent actress Claudia Shear to claim her Tony Award nomination). All told, she won: an Obie Award; a special citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle; The Distinguished Achievement Award in Musical Theatre from the Drama League; a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance; a Drama Desk for Outstanding Book of a Musical (sharing with John Lahr); a Lucille Lortel Award for Unique Theatrical Experience; an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Solo Performance; and a Tony Award nomination for Special Theatrical Event. She is considered a heavy favorite for the last.