by: Sandi Durell
Everyone had something to say about the raspy-voiced, salty, brash and bawdy personality we came to know as Elaine Stritch. Bernie Furshpan, owner/host at the Metropolitan Room said that even Stritch’s description of herself was as a ‘Catholic diabetic alcoholic pain in the ass!” Well, that pain in the ass brought a lot of pleasure to so many during her lifetime. Stritch passed away on July 18th at the age of 89 and honoring her were approximately 25 different performers who memorialized her career in theater and in cabaret singing songs she made famous during her long career, all to a packed audience on August 7th.
The Tony Award winner for her one woman show “Elaine Stritch At Liberty,” and more recently seen on Broadway in the 2010 revival “A Little Night Music,” also made headlines for her Cafe Carlyle appearances, dressed in black tights and long sleeve white man tailored shirts, famous for forgetting her lines. She was surely one of a kind.
Most of the performers had their own tales to tell about meeting her, like Scott Siegel who presented her with a Nightlife Award one year and wound up with a hair, makeup and limo bill for $3000; and Debbi Whiting whose famous mom Margaret shared a stage at Rainbow & Stars with Elaine related stories of how the sparks flew between the ladies – “the ladies who lunch . . . indeed!”
Many turned out from Broadway like Tony Danza (You Go to My Head), Annaleigh Ashford & Lisa Brescia (Everyday a Little Death), N’Kenge (Blow, Gabriel Blow), 13 year old Marquise Neal (Broadway Baby), and a plethora of cabaret folks including: Baby Jane Dexter, Liz McKendry, Steven Carl McCasland, Daryl Glenn, Pia Zadora, Janice Hall, Shaleah Adkisson, Elaine St. George, Darius Harper, Anna Kirkland, Christopher Borger, Sunny Leigh, Travis Moser, Craig Pomeranz & Maria Ottavia, Natalie Douglas, and the “Ladies Who Lunch” duo Jeff Harnar & KT Sullivan.
Musical accompaniment was provided mainly by Barry Levitt on piano, Jon Burr on bass and Howie Gordon on drums. Additional video clips rounded out an evening of levity and nostalgia to the lady born in Michigan who knew, as a kid, she would have a career in showbiz.
Produced/Directed by: Peter Napolitano
Photos: Maryann Lopinto