Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm Not Surprised

President Obama got front row seats to hear Elaine Stritch perform in his own living room. But his experience, as it turns out, was much like mine:

With Broadway at the White House, Elaine Stritch Is at Liberty (to Forget Her Lyrics) - ArtsBeat Blog - NYTimes.com

Saturday night, Mr. Ben and I saw A Little Night Music, which is a favorite of mine from way back, starring the ineffable, ageless Bernadette Peters and the ineffable but visibly aged Elaine Stritch. (Reminding me of a classic Sondheim song "I'm Still Here" about women on stage: "First you're another sloe-eyed vamp, then someone's mother, then you're camp ...")

The show was wonderful -- the chorus especially good, the music lovely -- but hilarious Ms. Stritch could not, for the life of her, remember her lines. Most of the time she covered for herself well, and a fellow in the first row prompted her when necessary. Still, at one point, I shrunk back in my seat feeling awful for her. Even if it is true that she has not seen a sunrise sober in longer than I've been alive, she is a professional, and for a professional to lose face in front of a Broadway audience must be devastating.

Worse, though, is losing face in front of a President. Even if he's gracious about it, as apparently the Obamas were. Regardless, I thought the ad placement on the NYT article about the event was unintentionally hilarious and ironic:

As was the choice of song. The words she forgot while singing in the White House? From "I'm Still Here." Though she is, of course, and thank God. I'm thrilled I got to see her live, even in somewhat fumbling form, and I'm sure the Obamas are too.


sorelle said...

Given your own history, you left out the most important line of that excellent song, "then you career from career to career..."

ester said...

Ouch! :) But yes, quite true.