“I’d like to propose a toast.” They’re just six simple words introducing “The Ladies Who Lunch” in the musical Company, but they’re the six words that introduced the scene that got theater and cabaret audiences talking about Elaine Stritch, who died today at age 89.
This bit, which unfolds over about 12 minutes with the tension of an ace Hitchcock thriller, is about as apt a descriptor of Stritch’s legacy as any: In the benchmark 1971 D.A. Pennebaker documentary Company: Original Cast Album, Stritch famously tries to get through a marathon show album recording. Tugging at her hair with voice tired and weary, her resolve dwindling, with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim nervously shrinking in the sound booth, even Stritch cannot deal with the sound of her voice on playback after the less-than-stellar take. “Oh, shut up!” she screams at herself in agony. They all agree to table the recording of “Ladies” until the next day. And just some hours later, they reconvene in the studio, everyone on pins and needles, and she absolutely nails it. And cast album history is made. READ FULL STORY