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Elaine Stritch At Liberty

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Veteran actress/singer Elaine Stritch had a career in musicals, straight plays, movies, and TV dating back to the mid-'40s, and at age 76 she reviews it all on this two-CD album, which is a recorded version of her one-woman show, Elaine Stritch: At Liberty. Her singing voice has long since become raspy and limited, but her timing and phrasing enable her to put across almost any song effectively. She features her signature songs, from "Civilization" (the novelty in which a monkey expresses a preference for the jungle), which she sang in her first Broadway show, Angel in the Wings, in 1947, to Noël Coward's witty "Why Do the Wrong People Travel," which she introduced in Sail Away in 1961, and, inevitably, "The Ladies Who Lunch," her showstopper from Stephen Sondheim's Company in 1970. Other songs tend to be incidental to the anecdotes she tells, starting with an annotated version of "There's No Business Like Show Business," from which she hangs a series of humorous personal observations. Stritch is unsparing to herself as well as her colleagues, providing an impressionistic autobiography that is revealing, if selective. You would hardly know about her extensive work in television, which goes almost unmentioned, but her major theater credits are all touched on. She is unafraid to discuss her problems with alcohol or with men. Containing entertaining stories concerning such figures as Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, Ethel Merman, and Noël Coward, this is an album that will delight anyone interested in the history of theater over the years from the 1940s to the 1980s, as told from the vantage point of one of its more acute, if occasionally addlepated, observers. And though the mere listener is denied the added pleasure of having Stritch on-stage performing it, very little is actually lost in the transfer to disc.

Elaine Stritch At Liberty, Elaine Stritch
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