"This DVD brilliantly recaptures the sold-out show which played to packed houses at New York's Public Theatre before moving to Broadway. Eliane Stritch, one of the great ladies of the theatre, recounts her long, fascinating career and her life offstage with a candor which is nothing short of astonishing. In her inimitable voice, Ms. Stritch belts out a generous plateful of songs, including her still-potent THE LADIES WHO LUNCH, from her career-defining performance in Stephen Sondheim's musical hit COMPANY...but it's the revealing, often wrenching details of her long battle with the bottle and her struggle to face her demons head on which make this truly compelling viewing. The DVD perfectly captures the theatrical experience."
Elaine really chews up the scenery in this one!
Charles S. Houser | Binghamton, NY | 11/10/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No small feat. The scenery consists of a chromium bar stool and 60-foot brick wall.Theater-buffs recognize Stritch as the legend she is. And most of us are rather pleased that her work in film has always been secondary (her best work in that medium was in Woody Allen's SEPTEMBER)...and that her heart will ALWAYS be in the THEATAH. Although this one-woman-show has plenty of musical numbers, it is mostly an autobiographical tirade, designed to woo our sympathies. As a stage performance it was incredible; as a filmed performance with many close-ups it's a bit disconcerting, like sitting on the corner stool in a prize fight. This is not to diminish the writing, pacing, humor, or the brilliance of Stritch's performance. It's just a little overpowering. At the center of her angst is her Catholic upbringing, lack of luck in love, and her struggle with alcoholism. In fact, she is so tough on herself that you almost fail to notice how tough she is on others. Just short of libelous, we get some very interesting glimpses of her fellow performers: Gig Young, Ethel Merman, Judy Garland, Marlon Brando, Gloria Swanson, and Rock Hudson, to name a few.So move your barcalounger back twelve feet, get out your handkerchief, and hang on to your hat (does anyone still wear a hat?) And enjoy a legend!."
Once-in-a-Lifetime Performance by a Legend!
Charles S. Houser | 03/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This bare-bones DVD (no cute extras) captures (on high-quality video) one of the finest one-woman shows ever to hit Broadway and the West End. Elaine Stritch, caught here in London, struts the boards with her still-lovely 78-year-old legs (in black tights) to share tales of life, love and lots of booze on the wicked stage. She has truly "been there, done that, got all the T-shirts"; she's dated Brando, understudied Merman on Broadway (and simultaneously stopped the show in "Pal Joey" in New Haven!), served as Noel Coward's muse, dazzled Richard Burton, drunk Garland under the table, and managed to give incredible performance after incredible performance-- with the help of alcohol for many years.Stritch can still sell a song, even with her bellowing rasp of a voice (once described as sounding like a stickshift being shifted without the clutch), and she claims chestnuts like "Broadway Baby" and "I'm Still Here" as her own in this piece. But she's also a fierce talent as an actor, and grabs your attention throughout the two-plus hours of this show. Her funny stories are hysterically so (witness her stammeringly ask Merman to allow her to slip up to New Haven to "Pal Joey's" opening during a blizzard, and Merman bray her reply: "Oh Elaine just go up to New Haven for chrissake and sing the #@%&*%!song!!"). Her stories of heartache are truly heartbreaking; her too-brief marriage to John Bay moves her to sing "There Never Was a Baby Like My Baby", and she still misses him twenty years after his death. Her final goodbye to alcohol (after a dangerous hypoglycemic episode) is tinged with sadness; for years alcohol was her constant companion on stage.But now she's healthy, reclaiming the life she almost missed in a boozy haze. And we get to enjoy a huge, vital talent, still in her prime, still making great theatre. Long Live Elaine Stritch!"
Defining a Legend
Scott J. Hamilton | Brooklyn, NY USA | 04/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just about as honest, open, and vulnerable as a performer can be. I saw this show when it first aired and bought the DVD so I can watch it over again. The performance Stritch gives is greater than any of her other work because it incorporates the best of so much of her stage, screen, and TV work. I had the pleasure of meeting Stritch at a SAGE awards dinner in 2005. When I asked her to autograph my DVD she seemed genuinely flattered. The nakedness seen in this show is a glimpse into the personality of a truly gifted performer."
D. Pauley | Charleston, WV | 04/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I rented this DVD and wasn't really looking forward to watching it, but this past Saturday afternoon I stuck it in the DVD player and only got up to go to the john till it was over. Ms. Stritch is just amazing in this show. I'd seen her in films and on TV on occasion, but this performance puts them all to shame. Her story about understudying Merman is just a riot. Her Judy Garland story is wonderfully funny, as is the story of her Rock Hudson dating. She's sad in recounting the story of her husband's death and in relating her long, long battle with alcoholism. Her name dropping stories are in turn funny and sad. The songs are great, even though you can tell the years of booze and cigarettes have certainly taken the toll on her voice. Her innocence in the early days of her Broadway career, and even as late as the early 70's in Company when she didn't know who Mahler was, is just amazing. All in all, Elaine is just a force of nature and this video should be watched by all lovers of the Broadway theater. A great companion piece to this would be the DVD of Company:Original Cast Album. Her efforts after a 15 hour recording session to do Ladies Who Lunch and failing is just heart breaking. This lady is one of the greats of theater and is well deserving of her living legend status."