Broadway Scene Stealers: The Women

By Ben Rimalower
22 Aug 2013

Elaine Stritch
Photo by Joan Marcus

9. Elaine Stritch, A Little Night Music

If I'm not the best judge of a Patti LuPone scene-stealing allegation, perhaps you could say the same thing about the city of New York when it comes to Elaine Stritch. She maybe be Michigan-born, but her decades of spraying our fair city with trademark piss and vinegar, peppered with legendary performances on stage and capped off by an Emmy-winning run as Alec Baldwin's iconic mother on New York's own "30 Rock," have more than firmly established Stritch as an emblem of the home team. Still, as an exciting mid-run replacement Madame Armfeldt opposite Bernadette Peters' takeover turn as Desiree in the recent revival of A Little Night Music, "Stritchie" stole the show.

Some people balked at her coarseness being inappropriate for this aging, old-world courtesan, but the role fit her personality very well. The character gets pushed around in a wheelchair, barking out commands, criticisms and witticisms. Nobody can touch Stritch when it comes to that assertive authority and fierce conviction.  Her command of the stage was masterful. Just try to watch someone else onstage. I dare you.