Elaine Stritch made her take-no-prisoners way into my consciousness when I heard her sing “You Took Advantage of Me” and “Too Good for the Average Man.” I’d bought Decca’s cast album for the 1954 revival of On Your Toes mainly because I’d become a fan of Richard Rodgers’s music for the “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” ballet—not for Stritch, about whom I’m not certain I previously knew anything.
What she did with the two Rodgers and Lorenz Hart songs stopped me in my tracks. Her bravura renditions all but stopped the LP in its tracks. I was dazzled by the grit, the humor, the bravado. There were some Ethel Merman elements there, of course, which indicated she was working in an honored Broadway tradition, but the style was new to me—a styling laced with irony that knock-it-straight-to-the-back-row-of-the-upper-balcony Merman never went in for.
Twice monthly, ArtsNash is delighted to feature articles from our partner The Clyde Fitch Report. The contributors to CFR cast their journalistic eyes on the worlds of arts and politics. Follow The Clyde Fitch Report on Facebook and Twitter. David Finkle is the author of the preceding article, one of a series inThe Aisle Seat for CFR.
David Finkle writes frequently about the arts.
*Photo of Elaine Stritch courtesy Clyde Fitch Review.