The Broadway star who turned Stephen Sondheim’s song of survival “I’m Still Here” into a personal anthem of triumph over booze, diabetes, unfaithful lovers, indifferent producers, demanding directors, fawning fans, and long stretches of unemployment before achieving the status of Living Legend in her later decades, died last week. She passed away in Birmingham, MI, the Detroit suburb to which she decamped a year ago after living the fabulous life for years at Madison Avenue’s Hotel Carlyle. She was 89. Broadway dimmed its lights for one minute on Friday at 7:45 PM in tribute. Host Robert Hammond as he paid tribute to Elaine Stritch during Stage Notes July 26, 2014. Full program below.
LISTEN Aired 7/26/14
The Broadway star who turned Stephen Sondheim’s song of survival “I’m Still Here” into a personal anthem of triumph over booze, diabetes, unfaithful lovers, indifferent producers, demanding directors, fawning fans, and long stretches of unemployment before achieving the status of Living Legend in her later decades, died last Thursday. She passed away in Birmingham, MI, the Detroit suburb to which she decamped a year ago after living the fabulous life for years at Madison Avenue’s Hotel Carlyle. She was 89. Broadway dimmed its lights for one minute on Friday at 7:45 PM in tribute. Join Host Robert Hammond as he pays tribute to Elaine Stritch
“Elaine Stritch’s big personality was matched by her big talent,” Broadway League Executive Director Charlotte St. Martin said.
New York City named Stritch one of its Living Landmarks in 2003.
Just 17 when she moved to New York to study acting, Stritch made her Broadway debut in 1946.She was nominated for five Tony Awards and eight primetime Emmys over her long career. She did not win a Tony until her autobiographical one-woman show — “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” — won the 2002 special theatrical event Tony.
Her 2002 performance also won an Emmy after it was made into an HBO show. Stritch was awarded two other acting Emmys, including one for a guest star role on “Law & Order” and one for playing Alec Baldwin’s mother on “30 Rock.”
Stritch was born in Detroit in 1925 but moved to New York City to study acting when she was 17.
Her Broadway debut came in “Loco,” a comedy that ran for just a month in October 1946. Her first musical role on Broadway came a year later in “Angel in the Wings.”
“The Ladies Who Lunch,” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” became her signature song when she sang it on Broadway in 1971. The performance earned her a Tony actress nomination.
Her other Tony nominations came from “Bus Stop” in 1956 and “Sail Away” in 1962.
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A good friend of mine was in a lead role in a blockbuster musical on Broadway. After the Saturday evening performance, it was customary for the cast and crew to chill out at what they called “their place.” Since I was a frequent attendee, I became an honoree part of the group. On one such night, I asked my friend “is —- gay.” He responded: “Robert, on Broadway you don’t ask if a person is gay, you ask if they’re straight.”
For certain, I knew about the stereotypes and flamboyancy that often surrounds theatre people, but I had not developed such a hard core syllogism: If you’re in theatre you must be gay. I don’t believe that. However, I do believe that the theatre is a safe haven for many LGBT people, especially gay men.
I was thrilled that Dr. Allan O’Grady Cuseo joined me on this important edition of Stage Notes. Broadcast date June 21, 2014. Take time to read his impressive bio:
Dr. Allan O’Grady Cuseo earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1988. He also holds a Masters in Library Science from SUNY/Geneseo and a BS in Education from SUNY/GENESEO. He holds a Master of Theology from St. Bernard’s College of Theology and Ministry plus a certificate in Scriptural Studies from Education for Ministry from Sewanee. He holds a certificate in Irish Theatre from the University College, Galway Ireland.
Dr. Cuseo was Building Leader for Library Services at Greece Arcadia High School and was instrumental in establishing the Project Pride, a student teaching, program there. He was on the adjunct faculty of Nazareth College of Rochester for over 25 years and 10 years for the School of Library Science at UB/SUNY’s School of Information and Library Science. He was on the adjunct faculty of the now closed Graduate School of Information and Library Science, SUNY/GENESEO. Allan resigned as Director of Library Services for Bishop Kearney High School in June 2009. He is currently General Manager of the Rochester Association of Performing Arts/Main Street (RAPA).
As a member of the American Library Association he has served as chairperson for the Outstanding Books for College Bound (Fine Arts) Revision Committee and has been a member of the Outstanding Books for College Bound (Fiction) Committee and the School Library Journal/Young Adult Services Division Committee to choose the Young Adult Author of the Year Award. He was awarded a position on the Best Books for Young Adults, one of 15 librarians nationwide so honored. He was the Chair of the Religion Committee for the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Committee of the Young Adult Services Association of the American Library Association. He also was Chair of Books That Don’t Make you Blush for the same committee. He recently resigned as a major book reviewer for Catholic Library World magazine.
For his volunteer work with the City of Rochester PAC-TAC program he has been awarded merit honors for his service as Security chairperson for the Corn Hill Neighbors Association (CHNA). He served on the Board of Directors of CHNA and on the Corn Hill Arts Festival Executive Board. He has been the Chairperson of Security for the famous Corn Hill Arts Festival for 26 years.
He was President of Blackfriars Theatre of Rochester, New York, having served as President of the Board of Directors for over 40 years. For 7 years he was President of the Rochester City Ballet, the city’s only professional ballet company. He has served on the Planning Committee for the Right-On Summer School for the Church of St. Luke and St. Simon Cyrene, Chairperson of the Evangelism Committee, Co-chairperson of the Ambassadors ministry, and a member of the Christian Education Committee. He was on the church’s vestry and serves as a delegate for the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. He was a member of the planning committee for the Lay School of Theology (Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Wellspring.
Dr. Cuseo has lectured and offered over 200 workshops nationwide for the New York Library Association and the American Library Association. Allan O’Grady Cuseo, PhD has a Doctorate in Literary Analysis from Columbia University. Formerly a librarian for the Greece Central School District, Dr. Cuseo retired June 2009 as Director of Library Services for Bishop Kearney High School.
He began his theatre career as a young teen with the Rochester Community Players and Catholic Theatre of Rochester (later renamed Blackfriars Theatre). He was the co-founder of the Rochester Repertory Company and starred in over 200 children and adult productions. The company specialized in children’s shows and performances for shut-ins in the community.
He is currently Managing Director of the Greater Rochester Repertories Companies (GRRC) and has directed Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap twice for them for which the Theatre Association of New York (TANYS) awarded him an Outstanding Director designation. For GRRC’s production of Love Letters he received an award from TANYS for Excellence in Acting.
Professionally in New York City he was a member of the Jewish Theatre for Children and also performed in Macy’s Christmas shows. He did summer stock at the famous Theatre-by-the-Sea in Matunuk, Rhode Island. He has worked on tour, both on-stage and technically, with Debbie Reynolds, Imogene Coca, Judy Garland, Kim Hunter, Patrice Munsel, Patty Duke, John Astin, Godfrey Cambridge, Hans Conried, Lou Jacobi, and Jane Connell.
It has been estimated that he has been in over 400 theatre productions. In a review in Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle it was said of Allan that “he has the most perfect comedy timing of anyone in Rochester Theatre.” Another review stated, “he walks on stage and the audience immediately loves him. He is pure magic on stage.”
Allan is a vowed religious brother of the Mercy of God Community, known as Br. Allan. In 2011 he was ordained by Open Ministry.
LISTEN Aired 6/14/13
Joined by Ted Chapin, past Chairman of the Board for the American Wing (founder and owner of the Tony Awards) and current Vice Chair, host Robert Hammond presented an overview of the 68th annual Tony Award ceremony held on June 8th at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Having just attended the Tonys, Chapin presented an inside “look” at what it takes to put the show together, the history of the Tony Awards, and the voting process.
Theodore S. Chapin is President of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company. He is responsible for the overall operation of the various divisions within R&H including Williamson Music, the Irving Berlin Music Company, R&H Theatricals, and the R&H Concert Library.
A native of New York City, Mr. Chapin attended the initial semester of the National Theater Institute of the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Theater Center. By the time he graduated from Connecticut College in 1972, he had amassed more than five years of Broadway credits as the production or directorial assistant for THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER AND HIS WIFE, THE ROTHSCHILDS, FOLLIES, and was assistant director for Bernstein’s MASS at the Kennedy Center, and CANDIDE at the Los Angeles and San Francisco Civic Light Operas.
From 1972 to 1975, Mr. Chapin served as Associate to Alan Arkin, where his credits include the original Broadway production of Neil Simon’s THE SUNSHINE BOYS, the CBS telecast of TWIGS starring Carol Burnett; Jonathan Reynolds’ RUBBERS & YANKS 3 DETROIT 0 TOP OF THE SEVENTH; and Neil Cuthbert’s THE SOFT TOUCH.
From 1976 until he joined R&H, Mr. Chapin’s career included serving as Musical Director for the National Theatre of the Deaf’s production of FOUR SAINTS IN THREE ACTS, Associate Director of the National Theater Institute, and Producer of the Musical Theatre Lab at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
In 2003, Mr. Chapin turned his observations as the Production Assistant on the Sondheim/Prince/Goldman/Bennett musical FOLLIES into a book, EVERYTHING WAS POSSIBLE: THE BIRTH OF THE MUSICAL “FOLLIES,” which was published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf and in paperback by Applause Books.
Mr. Chapin served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Theater Wing for four years. He was the chairman of the Advisory Committee for New York City Center’s Encores! from its inception. He has served as a Tony Awards nominator for two seasons, and is currently a member of the Tony Administration Committee. He has served as a panelist for the Opera/Musical Theatre program of the National Endowment for the Arts, a producer and lecturer for four concerts of the Doubleday series at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution, and has been a visiting lecturer at Yale, New York University, Lawrence University, Columbia, and Baldwin Wallace. He has been a judge at the Lotte Lenya Awards and has been honored by New York City Center with its Leonard Harris Award. Recently he received two honors, one from Career Bridges for the Arts and one for the preservation of the musical theater, from the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards.
A resident of New York City, he is married and the father of two daughters.
Unfortunately, we all receive bad news from time-to-time. So, I asked my Stage Notes followers via Facebook a question: What Broadway songs/musicals do you listen to when you need some cheering up? I was inundated with responses with some absolutely incredible choices. I thought it would be fun to put together a program with a playlist called “Happy Broadway,” based on some of the great suggestions you posted on Facebook. Thank you! It certainly was a jubilant Stage Notes. Click below to listen to the entire program. I think Monty Python’s Spamalot expresses the sentiment best: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
Baritone Virtuoso Douglas Carpenter, winner of the 2013 Lotte Lenya competition, joined host Robert Hammond to talk about the annual, international competition, that took place Saturday, April 12 at the Eastman School of Music’s Kilbourn Hall. Carpenter discussed his journey to the competition, his repertoire, and what winning has done for his career. He’s currently in the role of Lt. Cable in Paper Mill House’s production of South Pacific, on stage through May 4.
Doug began his career in opera earning a degree in voice from UNLV and a Masters in Vocal Performance from UCLA. Since graduating, Doug originated roles in two Roger Bean productions, as Skip in Life Could Be A Dream (LA Weekly and LA Drama Critics Circle winner) and Curtis in Summer of Love (Musical Theatre West, Ogunquit Playhouse). Regional credits: Lancelot in Camelot (Pasadena Playhouse), Curly in Oklahoma! (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Fullerton Civic Light Opera), Tony in West Side Story (Fullerton Civic Light Opera), Thief in See What I Wanna See (Blank Theatre), Prince in Cinderella (Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities), Chris in Miss Saigon (Moonlight Amphitheatre), and Joey in The Most Happy Fella (Dallas Lyric Stage). New York theater: Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Doug is the only singer to win both the American Traditions Competition (2011) and the Lotte Lenya Competition (2013).
In 1998, to honor the centenary of the birth of Lotte Lenya (1898-1981), an extraordinary singer/actress and one of the foremost interpreters of the music of her husband, Kurt Wiell (1900-1950), the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music established an annual Lotte Lenya Competition.
The competition recognizes talented young singer/actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in repertoire ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary Broadway scores, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. More than a vocal competition, the Lotte Lenya Competition is a theater singing competition that emphasizes wide-ranging repertoire and the acting of songs and arias within a dramatic context.
Historians of the Broadway musical, from the academy to the piano bar, agree on one thing: the archetypal Broadway star is a woman. Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Gwen Verdon, Carol Channing—legendary ladies such as these were the bulbs that lit the Great White Way in its golden and silver ages, and they still dominate the mythology of the genre. Back in the day, show-tune aficionados argued the merits of Merman versus Martin; today, one might find similar divisions among partisans of Patti LuPone and Bernadette Peters, or Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel.