June 11, 2004

Elaine Stritch At Liberty

"What has all this been about then, this existential problem in tights?"

Elaine asks this near the end of her stage bio, and it's an interesting question. HBO is showing a film version of the stage autobiography she did in 2002, and for which she won a Tony, the first of her 50+ year career.

I must confess that I had never heard of Elaine Stritch before the promos for this show. Apparently she never quite hit superstar status, and acted in some notable movies and a few TV shows, but most of her shit was on Broadway. I wondered why I was attracted to this show, given everything else that's going on in my life right now.

However, in answer to Elaine's question, "all this" has been about Elaine's performance career, and her personal life, which was mainly drinking. She confesses that she never once hit the stage without first having a drink.

She relates a revealing story about a comedian colleague of hers who was waiting to go on stage with his usual drink in his hand. He sees a fellow performer who is also waiting but does not have a drink. The first guy asks the second where his drink is. The second guy says he doesn't have one because he quit. The first guy says what? You're going out there alone?

I've always noticed how addictives seem to speak of their addictions and treat them like a spouse or a companion. Elaine says that she doesn't want to go out there alone either.

She was married for 10 years to a British actor, who apparently died of carcinoma. Her description of his death was certainly a very sad moment. However she is at least as mournful when she describes the day she stopped drinking.

Stritch's story is rich, funny, and tragically fascinating. The film is not just the stage show. It includes rehearsal footage, scenes of her backstage before the show, and some hotel footage from when she did her gig in London.

Elaine's honesty makes this worth the watch. Check it out.

Posted by Wayne at June 11, 2004 12:00 AM

Great review! Visit ElaineStritch.com

Posted by: Robert at May 5, 2005 10:22 PM
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