Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stritchy & Another Favorite Clip

The other night, Jenn and I went to the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey to see The Full Monty.

Not only was it a long anticipated and much needed Date Night for the Newmans, but we were setting out to see a dear friend, Kelly Sullivan, as Pam Lukowski. It was not a surprise that Kelly played the role with a skillful breadth and depth that gave us the distinct impression that Pam really did want her ex-husband, Jerry, to be a success. Thankfully, Kelly's Pam was not just another bitter and cynical "ex". [Cheers, friend!]

The men of The Full Monty, charmingly led by Wayne Wilcox as Jerry Lukowski (pictured right), all gave extremely energetic - yet, well paced - performances. Joe Coots was a great choice as Jerry's best friend Dave Bukatinsky. Wilcox and Coots worked well together in very much the same way that a pitcher and catcher do. But, above all... COURAGEOUS is the word that I would use to describe these actors. Whether you're backlit by a gigantic The Full Monty marquee sign or not, baring it all onstage takes some huevos.

Rounding out the cast were stage veteran Michael Rupert as Harold Nichols, and the always hilarious Michele Ragusa as his lovingly spoiled wife Vicki. The chemistry of these two was tangible.

And finally, breaking the applause-meter as the long-since-retired rehearsal pianist Jeanette Burmeister, was legendary funny-lady Elaine Stritch (pictured left).

Many times when living legends grace the stage, the riotous applause tends to be more in admiration of the legend and not so much about the person's actual performance. Not so, this time. The 84 year old actress, who has been working on the stage, on film and on television since her stage debut in 1944, proved that her hysterical timing and brassy voice haven't gone anywhere. Her presence on the stage was remarkable. So much so that when we had the opportunity to meet her after the show, we were truly shocked at how tiny she is. Her energy is so big that she defined "larger than life".

This brings me to Another Favorite Clip.

One of the things that Elaine Stritch is known for is her roughly voiced version of Stephen Sondheim's "The Ladies Who Lunch" from Company. While recording the 1970 Broadway Cast album, the now-recovering alcoholic and riddled diabetic, was battling her addiction and it shows in this piece of documentary footage. You can hear in the commentary how Stritch felt about the process and her performance. What's amazing to me is the transformation toward the end and how drastically her performance changes with the addition of hair and makeup. Click here to take a look and enjoy.

[Photos come to A Liberal's Libretto from the Paper Mill Playhouse website]

1 comment:

Brad said...

Well written BD. The FM is an amazing show. So glad you got the chance to enjoy!

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