The production opened with a star-studded, black tie gala on 9 October 2002 (previews from 1 October) and had been booking up to 23 November only. Because of Stritch's age and the demanding nature of the material, the season is limited to just five performances a week (Tuesday to Saturday evenings only) rather than the usual eight. The new extension adds a further 15 performances to the initial 40.
In the show, devised by John Lahr and directed by George C Wolfe, the Stritch recounts personal experiences from her long career in a mix of anecdotes and live music. First seen last November off-Broadway, the production transferred in February 2002 with rave critical and public reviews to Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre. In June, it won a 2002 Tony Award for Best Theatrical Event.
Stritch's career on Broadway has spanned more than five decades, following her 1944 debut in Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes. Since then, according to Whatsonstage.com contributing editor and New York Nights columnist Mark Shenton, "added lustre to everything from Sondheim musicals to Simon comedies, and from Albee plays to Allen movies".
The actress is familiar to UK television audiences for her 1970s turn, opposite Donald Sinden, in the award-winning British sitcom Two's Company. Elaine Stritch at Liberty marks her return to the West End for the first time since Love Letters in 1990. The West End season is produced by Mark Goucher, Sally Greene for Old Vic Productions and Imagination Entertainment.
- by Terri Paddock