Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company
YouTube Fireside Chat – Elaine Stritch Edition

YouTube Fireside Chat – Elaine Stritch Edition

Episode 103: YouTube Fireside Chat – Elaine Stritch Edition

Join Lindsay Price and Craig Mason in a YouTube Fireside Chat about Elaine Stritch. They discuss little seen performance clips and how Stritch defied the current Broadway style. Also discussed is what it means to “take the stage.”

Show Notes

You’re Just in Love

Some Day My Prince Will Come

Ladies Who Lunch (2000)

Ladies Who Lunch (1973)

Elaine Stritch on Ethel Merman’s tip for performing musical comedy

Get on our mailing list!

Episode Transcript

Welcome to TFP – The Theatrefolk Podcast – the place to be for Drama teachers, Drama students, theatre educators everywhere.

I’m Lindsay Price, resident playwright for Theatrefolk.

Hello, I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening.

Okay. Here we are. Episode 103 and you can find all the links and there’s going to be video links today so don’t forget to go to the show notes –

Lindsay: First off, I’d like to welcome Theatrefolk cohort to the podcast, Craig Mason! Hello!

Craig: Hello, Lindsay Price!

Lindsay: How are you on this fine day?

Craig: I am just enjoying my day. How are you doing today?

Lindsay: That’s a great way to put it. “How are you doing today?” “I am enjoying the day.” That’s it. That is all. I’ll take it! Better than not enjoying the day, right?

Craig: Yeah, I’m kind of tired, to be honest, but nobody ever answers that question honestly, do they? “How are you doing?” They always say, “I’m good.”

Lindsay: You know, that’s pretty true. I think that’s true. Actually, actually, what I think it is is, when someone says they’re fine, nine times out of ten, not fine. It’s almost like someone should write a song about that.

Okay. So, today, what we’re doing here – and why Craig is here with me today – is that we are having a long overdue episode of a YouTube Fireside Chat. Craig, isn’t the middle of summer exactly the time when you want to curl up in front of a fake fire?

Craig: Yes, especially a fake fire, for sure – not a real fire.

Lindsay: No, a fake fire. We could make the fake fire anything we want. We could make it blue, we could make it sparkly. Well, we’re talking Broadway today so I think our fire is neon. What do you think?

Craig: Yes, and with all those chaser lights going around it.

Lindsay: Oh, perfect, perfect! It’s very appropriate that we’re talking Broadway today because we’re going to talk about Elaine Stritch. Elaine, unfortunately, passed away earlier this month and I am not one to think too much about celebrity deaths – and certainly not mention them on Facebook – but this one hit me more than a bit. How about you, Craig?

Craig: Yeah, I think she was such a wonderful performer that, when I saw that she had passed, it really kind of affected me a bit.

Lindsay: And it’s more than that because she was, first of all, she was a singular performer. There is an Elaine Stritch style that she had that made her unique. I think that’s very important. And I think she really was the definition of a Broadway broad.

Craig: Yes, “broad” is the correct term for her. Her style was so unlike what one would see on Broadway today. I mean, for a woman who made a career in musical theatre, she didn’t really have a classically good singing voice – it was deep and growly and earthy, I would say, and fueled by bottles and bottles of Jack Daniel.

Lindsay: At some point. Okay. We’re going to get into that. We’re going to get into that. That’s specifically what we’re going to get into in terms of clips of Miss Elaine. So, I just wanted to do just a very, very brief overview just because – it’s not even an overview but – she just had a really amazing and long career, and a varied career. I think people would look at it and just be so, so amazed.

She died at 89. She trained with Marlon Brando when she started out. She understudied Ethel Merman. It’s pretty easy to see and we’re going to have a story just a little bit later on talking about Elaine understudying Ethel Merman.

She was in the original production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company. Her version of “The Ladies Who Lunch” is the one that people think of when they think of that show. I remember her; my first memories of her in the seventies are actually not in musical theatre but on television. She moved to London in ’72 and was on a British sitcom called “Two’s Company” and I can remember the theme song, I remember the opening credits – they were a cartoon – and I used to watch the show on PBS. And, not only that, she just was not limited.

For such an earthy and brash broad, she succeeded in television; she was in movies; and on the stage in both musicals and in straight plays. I just think it’s just amazing. It’s amazing. She was a force and I think it’s really important just to have a discussion, Craig, just about how her singing style is not the Broadway tone of today.

Craig: No, absolutely not. I struggle to even remember the last time I saw someone who didn’t sing Broadway pretty, you know? But what she was was real. When she sang, when she acted, you got such a connected sense of the character that she was portraying. And, you know, who said it? Art doesn’t have to be pretty. There’s some sentence about that, or good singing. I know! I think it was actually Kristin Gauthier that said this, “Good singing is ugly sometimes,” and she allowed herself to not be perfect. She allowed herself to be flawed and that can only be achieved by just getting out there and going for it.

Lindsay: Granted, she basically had one character, you know, in terms of singing tone. But, when she sang, she was a character singing, and I think where we get into trouble these days, particularly with young performers, with young high school performers, and they’re seeing the current Broadway style and Craig and I, oh, we attend a lot of festivals – high school festivals. I sit in on competitions and it’s literally young girl after young girl singing in the exact same way and I think there is a huge danger to that. There is a huge danger to teaching students to sing in this particular style.

Now, of course, if they’re heading towards a career in that arena, if everyone else is singing that way, well, why wouldn’t I sing that way, too? But, if there’s 500 girls and they all sound the same, who’s going to stand out? I think it’s the Elaine Stritch.

Craig: Well, it’s going to be anyone who makes the song their own and I think that’s what you’re saying is that you see a lot of this now where everyone’s just trying to sound like everyone else. And so, very few people are managing to stand out, and I think the answer to that is to be yourself – to take a song and don’t listen to the recording anymore.

If you’re going to be singing a song for an audition, just stop listening to the CD and reinterpret that song for yourself and make a character for yourself. Again, that’s what Stritch certainly did and anything she did was unique to her. There was no doubt about who it was on-stage. It was Elaine Stritch.

They talk about artists, sometimes, the best way to stop people stealing your work is to make work that’s so unique that it could only have been created by you. So, if someone copies someone in your style, they’re clearly copying you.

Lindsay: And that leads really nicely into the first clip that I’m going to show. Now, Craig has not listened to any of these clips yet and so we’re going to listen and then talk about them. You can listen to the clips yourself. They are in the show notes –

It’s really important, I think, for young students today to be made aware of a performer like Elaine Stritch and a performer who made work her own.

The first clip we’re going to do is “You’re Just in Love” which is a duet. It’s in black and white so it’s like, it’s old, folks. But it’s just a great example of someone making a bit their own.

[YouTube Clip: You’re Just in Love]

Lindsay: Okay, Craig. What did you think?

Craig: Wow! I’ve never seen a clip that old from her. I only think of her as a woman maybe in her fifties.

Lindsay: From the seventies. Like, from Company, right?

Craig: Yeah, that’s how I picture Elaine Stritch in her youth. So, it’s amazing to see something that far back. I can’t believe that that tape even exists. That is an amazing performance – actually, by both of them – Russell Nype and Elaine Stritch. But her face is so alive and so expressive and you feel everything that’s going on inside her as she performs.

The other thing I’d say is I loved her physicality in the part where they stood again, you know. Not a classical dancer and not classical moves, but so expressive and so telling of what’s going on inside the character. I’d also say, too, that it’s not the most complicated song in the world, but she undergoes a variety of moods and feelings as she performs the song. You see her traverse through it.

Lindsay: It’s more than the words, and I really encourage teachers out there, show your students this video so many times. I see singing heads out of students where they sing so pretty and they stand so still and, understandably, there’s reasons for that – there’s breath control, there’s hitting the notes. Well, what if they didn’t hit the notes? What if they just hit the character? What if they hit the emotion? What if they hit the joy in the song? What I am overcome with when I watch her is with joy and I’m affected so that, to me, is a successful musical number – when I am feeling the exact same thing that the character is feeling.

Craig: Yeah, I absolutely love that I can’t thank you for finding that because that was very special.

Lindsay: Well, it was my pleasure.

Okay. Now, the reason I chose the next bit, the next piece, is actually for a little bit of a different reason. First of all, again, it’s the same voice – it’s the same brashness, the same Broadway broad. I don’t think it’s a song that you would ever ever ever – let me say that again – ever ever ever equate with Elaine Stritch. It’s not quite a good fit. However, does she roll her eyes? Does she hold back? Does she go, “Listen, everybody watching, I know that this isn’t going to fit. I know it.”? Well, you watch the clip and you be the judge of that. Let’s watch it.

[YouTube Clip: Someday My Prince Will Come]

Lindsay: Okay. What did you think of that?

Craig: That was hilarious.

Lindsay: Okay. So, go to the show notes, Episode 103. You have to see this piece for a number of reasons. So, tell me, what did you think of it first?

Craig: Okay. So, the first thing is how low does she sing that song? You’re expecting, “Someday!” But the other thing too is, again, how committed she is to that song with chaos and absurdity surrounding her and she just keeps singing the song very normally, very committedly, you know? If all that goofy stuff wasn’t there, it would be a just fine performance of the song, you know?

And that’s a real great lesson about comedy and about how let the funny stuff be funny and let the serious stuff be serious and that will resonate much more. If she had goofed, if she had made faces, if she had mugged that, “Oh, this guy’s so weird, I wish he’d go away,” then that would have really taken down the level of comedy. As a matter of fact, it kind of reminded me a little bit about Monty Python where there’s always something insanely absurd going on and then there’s always the person who’s perfectly straight and that dichotomy really enhances comedy.

Lindsay: And I think that’s something that students have a lot of trouble with, isn’t it? Like, everyone’s got to be wacky on-stage; everyone’s got to be doing something. Comedy is equated to wackiness and that’s not it at all – that someone has to be the straight man on-stage.

Craig: Again, I think it was John Cleese who said something along the lines of “Comedy is not a person doing a silly walk. Comedy is walking a person watch another person do a silly walk.”

Lindsay: This is about comedy and commitment. Do you think she was singing live?

Craig: Yes. I always assumed that those were pre-taped. I’m not sure how they mic’d them. They must have had an orchestra there. But there was a moment where she shifts her legs and, you know, clearly there’s a hitch in her voice and so clearly to me that was a live performance.

Lindsay: Well, then that was a lot of commitment because there’s that one point, you know, if you haven’t watched it yet, I’ll just give you a visual. Ernest Borgnine is dressed in a powder blue print outfit complete with tights and feather hat, and he is dancing around her – I think trying to make her laugh very purposefully – and then he does the whole shoe routine where he’s trying to find a shoe to fit her foot and he is not being gentle trying to shove a shoe on her foot. And she does not stop singing for a second, does she? She gets through the song.

Craig: No, she only reacts, like, once to what’s going on in the whole song, right? Like, right towards the very end she kind of shoves them away – shoves them away, I think.

Lindsay: I think that’s on purpose.

Craig: Oh, yeah, no, that’s blocked.

Lindsay: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, you know, it’s a real lesson in commitment and also in how comedy works on-stage. You know, whether or not you think a guy in a powder blue suit is funny, watch her, and watch her be the rock because that’s her character so she has to react in character and not roll her eyes and not wink to the audience.

Okay. So, what I’ve got now and I think this is a really great exercise for any teachers out there with theatre, even general theatre students, or if you have a musical theatre class. What I’ve got is I’ve got Elaine Stritch singing “The Ladies Who Lunch” from Company which is her signature songs but in two different decades.

The first one we’re going to listen to is from 2000 and the second one we’re going to listen to is from 1973.

You can do a compare and contrast exercise with two different singers singing the same song – like Elaine Stritch and Patti LuPone, or Elaine Stritch and was it 2006 that there was the latest version of Company on Broadway and the woman who played Joanne in that version was fantastic.

Craig: Completely different. Completely different from Stritch.

Lindsay: Oh, but just held her own like a champ.

But what you’ve got – and now that we’re in the digital age – there is a video out there of the same performer singing the same song in two completely different time periods. You can do it with Patti LuPone. You can do it with Bernadette Peters, I’m sure. And how are their versions – same singer but how do they differ? How has the singer’s voice changed? How has the phrasing changed? And what phrasing is exactly the same?

I’m really interested to hear what you think, Craig, about comparing and contrasting these two versions of the same song.

Craig: So, we’ll do them back-to-back? Okay.

Lindsay: Yes.

Craig: We’ll see you in a second.

[YouTube Clip: “The Ladies Who Lunch” 2000] [YouTube Clip: “The Ladies Who Lunch” 1973]

Craig: Rise! Rise!

Lindsay: Rise! It’s just a tone, man, isn’t it? There is no other person who sings like Elaine Stritch and, oh, you know? God rest her soul, man. There’s no one like her.

Craig: No, and quite a contrast between the two performances. I mean, they were both her, but they both had slightly different interpretations, I thought.

Lindsay: Well, first of all, this is very interesting. So, we picked two, as we were listening to them, we also picked a little snippet that you just heard before Craig and I started talking again and, quite interestingly, they’re the exact same length meaning they both started at 2:10 and they both ended at, like, 2:53. So, that’s very interesting that that doesn’t change – timing doesn’t change.

Craig: No, and I felt like the first song started very slow but I guess it was the same pace.

Lindsay: Okay. And I think that it sort of makes sense, the first one that we saw, it was a concert so it was sort of a presentation. The second one was so close to when she actually performed the role and I felt it was a character. Like, I felt like, in the second time, she was really singing about herself and I didn’t get that in the first time.

Craig: And, by first time, you mean the 2000 version, right?

Lindsay: I do. We backed it up. We started with the 2000 version and then the ’73.

Craig: Yes. Well, the 2000 version, there was also the irony of, you know, it was clearly some kind of gala performance and everyone in the audience knew her or her work very, very well so, you know, I think the applause when she started the song. There’s a different layer on there.

Lindsay: Yeah, and the applause when she put certain spins on it whereas, in some cases, the same spins like right before the “ah!” after vodka stinger got applause in the 2000 version whereas, in the 1973 version, it’s like a stab in your heart.

Craig: Yeah. So, the ’73 version, that character just seemed just devastatingly deeply affected by the people to whom she’s referring. The 2000 version, I mean, I think, when you get older and as you age, you know, that type of stuff affects you slightly less, or you can at least look back on it with a different slant.

But I’ll tell you what I absolutely adored about the performance. Actually, it’s more noticeable in the 2000 version than in the ’73 version but it’s there, too. It’s how alive she is. In the opening section of the song, it’s so slow and there’s so much space between the singing and she is so alive in those empty spaces. You see her, she’ll sing the phrase, she finishes the thought that that phrase was, the new thought comes to her head – you see that happening – and then she goes into the next phrase and it was just so masterful. You see so many performances where people, if they’re not singing, there’s a pause in the song. The character goes away and I found that her character was present even more so in the times where she wasn’t speaking. Did you catch that, too?

Lindsay: Well, it’s a complete performance. It’s really funny that you say that you found the 2000 one slow and I just didn’t notice it at all. I didn’t notice that it was slow which means that, yes, I was completely engaged when she was singing and when she wasn’t.

Craig: Yeah, I didn’t mean that it was slow in that it wasn’t interesting. I just meant the pace felt slow.

Lindsay: Yeah, yeah, but I think if I felt it was slow, it means I wasn’t engaged.

Craig: Yeah, right. You didn’t even notice, yeah. Wow! What an incredible performance.

I remember reading that Stephen Sondheim book and he talked about, I mean, this song was written for her and how Sondheim kind of always had it in the back of his head that, at the end of this song, when she’s screaming, “Rise! Rise! Rise!” that it would bring about a spontaneous standing ovation and he said it never happened and he knows why but that’s what he was thinking when he wrote it.

Lindsay: You know, if you want an extra little insight into that whole journey of her doing the song, there’s a documentary of the making of Company and I believe she drank – it’s no secret – she was drinking quite a bit at the time and her trying to record Company or trying to record “The Ladies Who Lunch” was…

Craig: Epic.

Lindsay: That’s a good way of putting it. Devastating I think was the word I was going to use.

Craig: Yeah, there’s a point where Sondheim just drops his head into his hands and is just completely depressed. It’s quite an amazing documentary.

Lindsay: And I think that they sent her home and they had to record the orchestra and then she came in the next day.

Craig: Sung to a track, yeah. All right, let’s move on.

Lindsay: Okay. So, Elaine Stritch, you know, not only a brassy singer, a brassy broad and, just as a little extra clip, I’ve included something in the show notes and I’ve got to warn you, she’s not gentile in this clip, but she talks about Ethel Merman’s tip for performing musical comedy. I think it’s just perfect example. You want to see what Elaine Stritch was like? This little clip is just the best example of what it means to be a Broadway broad.

And, before we leave, both Craig and I have seen Elaine Stritch on Broadway. It was in not a great performance of A Little Night Music and, instead of talking about that, we have a friend – a Toronto writer and a second city instructor, Jennine Profeta – who has a story about not only going to see her one-person show on Broadway in 2002 – At Liberty is the name of the show – but she also sort of managed to worm her way on-stage and got to see her after the show and what that was like and what it was like to meet her. So, let’s go head over to Jennine. Take it away!

Lindsay: Okay. So, hello, Jennine!

Jennine: Hello!

Lindsay: Okay. So, I knew that we were going to talk about Elaine Stritch on the podcast. You were one of the first people I talked to because you have and seeing an Elaine Stritch story.

Jennine: Yeah, we saw her in action. She was amazing. It was in 2002. She was doing her one-woman show at Liberty and I really didn’t know a lot about her at the time but I knew that she was sort of the lass of those old school Broadway performers – like, a real Broadway broad.

Lindsay: Yes.

Jennine: And so, that’s why I really wanted to see someone like that live perform so we ended up going. It was February 2002, I ended up going to New York. I got tickets to this show. It was actually a night as well where she, because she fought or she had diabetes all her life and she actually got really sick that night during the performance. They had to stop for half an hour.

Lindsay: Oh, my god.

Jennine: Yeah, and she left the stage, but that was one of the most amazing theatre experiences just in the sense that everybody in the audience just patiently waited for her. I think she just had some juice, she just rested, and she came back, and everybody just cheered, and she just picked up where she left off and went for it.

Lindsay: Okay. So, when you were watching this, did she actually stop the show? What did she say?

Jennine: Well, there was a couple of times she was messing up the jokes. There was something about a nunnery but she’d have to keep backing up the joke. Like, she’d started but she’d be like, “No, no, no, no. No, no, no, no,” and then it was the first time I’d ever watch somebody just walk off the stage. And then, she came back and she tried it again and it just wasn’t working. We’re also talking about a woman who’s in her late seventies at this point.

And then, her stage manager or somebody came out and just said, “Miss Stritch needs to just have some juice. She’s feeling her blood sugar is a bit low so we’re just going to give her a minute and try to carry on with the show.” It just felt like the whole audience went, “Yup! That’s what we’ll do.”

And then, at one point, some guy had started doing the slow clap to try and get her back on and the whole audience turned on him and went just like, “Boo!” because, like, New Yorkers – they’re known as, like, you know, impatient and blah blah blah and everybody just gave her her space and she came back and she was fabulous.

So, I’m so glad that we saw that and, you know, I’m glad that she had that experience. But it was interesting to watch how a professional dealt with something like that because she is the show. Like, if she’s not up there, there’s nobody else to help cover for her or whatever. So, that was the first part. We were just blown away by that.

And then, at the end of the show, in the Neil Simon Theatre upstairs, the women’s washrooms are very small because there are many theatres and the guys were much bigger so my husband was able to use the washroom really quick and, as he’s waiting for me in the line-up, he sort of kind of half came into the washroom and went, “Jennine, she’s on-stage talking to people!” and, at that point, I’m just like, “You guys can have my spot!” and ran out and we went back down in the theatre.

Dave, my husband, was able to figure out how to get backstage because it’s not quite clear. As we’re going up the steps, there was one of the guys that come sweeping the floor and he said to us, he’s like, “Excuse me, who are you?” and I’m holding my program, I feel like I’m ten years old at this point, I’m like, “Oh, we just want to say hi to Miss Stritch, please,” and he’s like, “Yeah, if they ask, tell them you’re producers,” and he led us on to the stage. I’m sure that’s against IATSE rules.

Lindsay: Oh, just one or two.

Jennine: Yeah, exactly. And so, we’d gone to the stage and there’s just a lot of people waiting around to see her. And so, we’re at the front end, I’m watching her sort of make her way She obviously knows all these small groupings of people. It’s like family members or cousins or it’s just something. So, she’s slowly talking, saying hi, and I’m standing there sweating bullets, like my program, you can see the indentations of my hands because I’m just like, “Oh, my gosh, she’s going to come over and we’re nobody and we’re going to get yelled at or kicked off the stage or something like we shouldn’t be here.”

Finally, as she’s making her way to me and she’s made eye contact with me – and, again, I am just so nervous – I hear on my right side like a, “Oh, hello darling!” or something like that. I can’t remember exactly what she said. Elaine Stritcher turns to acknowledge the other person and I turn and it’s Shirley MacLaine. It’s Shirley MacLaine in this big fur coat, looking fabulous, and they start talking to each other. So, at this point, they’re both like two feet away from me on either side and I’m caught in their conversation.

And so, Elaine Stritcher is asking Shirley MacLaine, she’s like, “Oh, how’s your brother?” – like, Warren Beatty – and “Oh, he’s fine.” “Oh, is he still with that girl?” this is Shirley MacLaine, “Which one?” and they keep checking in with me and I’m just like nodding and, yeah, I’m just caught in this conversation between these two amazing performers and I just felt so included in it. It was great. It was really great. I’m really glad I have that memory. And then, at the end of it, Shirley and her entourage left and Elaine turned to me with the sort of the “Who are you?” and just signed my program and that was it.

For a moment, I was part of Broadway greatness.

Lindsay: So, when you saw her and when you saw this last of a dying breed, this Broadway broad, what struck you?

Jennine: Oh, my god, just everything I want to be and try to be as a performer and everything I want to teach my students. Just the idea because these are women that fought for their positions and they didn’t get to where they were because they were necessarily beautiful or perfect singers. They had the drive. They knew they wanted to perform and they had to find ways to just put themselves out there and make themselves memorable.

Like, they’re characters and I just admire that and that’s the thing, again, especially in this day and age where physical beauty matters so much, it seems to be in the movies and stuff like that. It’s not necessarily your talent; it’s how you look. That there’s ways around it and that those of us who really want to be there, want to perform, there’s another way to make yourself known and make yourself stand out and make yourself something special that people need to pay attention to.

Lindsay: And when you talk about teaching your students, exactly what do you want to teach them about how to perform like someone like Elaine Stritch?

Jennine: It’s that idea of taking the stage, that when you’re on the stage, you deserve to be there. You’ve already done the auditions and stuff like that. That’s your time and you have something to say and it’s okay to say, “Okay, audience. Look at me. Here’s what I’m going to do,” and it’s not a conceited thing. It’s not necessarily a pride thing. I think there’s something quite wonderful about just really planting your feet and delivering and that a lot of what I see as an improve teacher is people playing small, especially women, and they’re taking the classes because they’re trying to come out of their shells. So, this is a way to demonstrate what it means to really come out of your shell and to have those examples that, you know, you can look at a woman like her and hear her story about leading up to through the career she had to make herself known and go, “ I can have that, too. I can be that person. I have something to say. I can be memorable, too.”

Lindsay: Okay. I’m going to put you on the spot. It was 14, 12 years ago, I can’t do math, 12 years ago. Is there any one of her stories that still kind of sticks with you?

Jennine: Yeah. Well, I mean, the fact that she worked with people like Noel Coward and she was Ethel Merman’s understudy. Yeah, like my retelling of them is terrible but I love that she was Ethel Merman’s understudy. I was just so eager to go on-stage but Ethel Merman never missed a show – and, again, we’re talking another Broadway broad – and there’s also that sense of like, there’s people that are clamoring up the ladder and they want to take her spot and I think she was really wresting to let Elaine Stritch on stage and probably wisely so.

So, yeah, poor Elaine Stritch never got to do a show. She was somewhere and got the call that Ethel was sick and did, like, pack-up, get herself to the theatre during a snowstorm I think it was. There was this crazy story getting there only to find out that Ethel was already in costume, ready to go.

Lindsay: Well, that’s another thing to learn, too. It’s like, “You know what?” Well, that’s how Suddenly Modern Millie, what’s her name?

Craig; Thoroughly.

Lindsay: Thoroughly Modern Millie. I’m looking at Craig – do you remember her name?

Jennine: The character or the actress?

Lindsay: The actress.

Jennine: Yeah.

Lindsay: That’s how she became – and I’m really, really embarrassed because we saw her in Anything Goes and she was absolutely fantastic.

Craig: Sutton Foster.

Lindsay: Sutton Foster!

Jennine: Yeah!

Lindsay: That’s how she became a Broadway star. It was because she was the understudy and the lead got sick and the understudy just took over.

Jennine: Yes.

Lindsay: So, you always want to be prepared and you always want to be in that moment or you never want to get sick.

Jennine: Yeah, exactly. That’s all part of the folklore. Like, all part of the fairy tale that is the theatre too, right?

Lindsay: Absolutely.

Jennine, thank you so much! I really appreciate you taking the time.

Jennine: Thanks, guys!

Lindsay: Ah! Thanks, Jennine! Taking the stage – I think that is the epitome of what Elaine Stritch did and I think that is what we should be teaching all of our students. We have to get students to take the stage and it’s so easy when we’re young to not want to be noticed and to not want to stand out and, you know, let’s all be like Elaine Stritch – maybe.

Craig: No.

Lindsay: Okay. But we can embody what she stood for – taking the stage, maybe?

Craig: Yes. Oh, of course! No, I just don’t want to be Elaine Stritch – not really. I don’t want to have the problems that she had in life.

Lindsay: Right. Excellent. Okay.

Craig: But I would like to perform with the same type of bravado with which she performed. So, yes.

Lindsay: Agreed. Okay. So, in that regard…

Craig: Yes, I do want to be Elaine Stritch!

Lindsay: I do want to be Elaine Stritch! I do! I do! I do!

Okay. So, that’s wonderful.

Before we go, let’s do some THEATREFOLK NEWS.

So, Craig and I have been working on a special secret project all summer long – no lounging on the beach for us, I’m afraid – and that project is just around the corner. We polled Drama teachers from around the world on what they’re looking for, what they want, and what they need. We’re putting on the finishing touches and tying on the sparkles and the bows. But here’s the thing.

Make sure you are on our email list. We’re announcing it there first. So, go to and I’ll put the link in the show notes too and that’s If you want to hear about our secret project first, that’s where you need to go.

Finally, where, oh, where? Where can you find this podcast? Well, we post new episodes every Wednesday at and on our Facebook page and Twitter. You can find us on You can find us on the Stitcher app and you can subscribe to TFP on iTunes. All you have to do is search on the word, what? No, “Theatrefolk.”

And that’s where we’re going to end. Take care, my friends. Take care and…

Craig: High five.

Lindsay: No!

Craig: Rise!

Lindsay: Rise!

Music credit:”Ave” by Alex (feat. Morusque) is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Related Articles

Shakespeare on a Shoestring
Shakespeare on a Shoestring
Production Case Study: The Laramie Project
Production Case Study: The Laramie Project
Facilitating a student led production
Facilitating a student led production

Enjoy a Front Row Seat to Our Newsletter!

Subscribe for our exciting updates, insights, teaching resources, and new script releases. Plus, sign up now and get 4 plays and 2 lesson plans for FREE!

Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company
Theatrefolk is the Drama Teacher Resource Company. We are your one stop shop for Plays, Resources, and Curriculum Support - all specifically designed for High School and Middle School drama teachers.
Follow Us!
Drama Teacher Academy
Copyright © 1995-2024