At the Broadway premiere of Holland Taylor‘s tour de force performance as Ann Richards in “Ann,” Elaine Stritch confirmed the worst. A New York living legend, Stritch is packing up and heading home to Detroit. She’s 88, and she’s had enough New York for a lifetime. She’s been here since she was 17. Famously, she once tended bar at Elaine’s restaurant for Elaine Kaufman when she needed money.
Last year she told us she served a man 37 drinks before Elaine stopped her. Luckily, she was more of a success as an actress. But New York without Elaine Stritch? She’s been living at the Hotel Carlyle for decades, and performing there in exchange for rent. No more. She’ll do a stint at the Cafe Carlyle and be on her way before May 1st.
“I’ll be back,” she assured me, “for visits. I’ve already booked a couple of things.” Her family is in Detroit. Stritch bought a condo there for about $1.5 million according to reports. Money goes a lot farther in Detroit.
Stritch was one of Holland Taylor’s many buddies to come to opening night for “Ann” at the Vivan Beaumont Theater. The regal and legendary Liz Smith arrived with buddies Billy Norwich and Iris Love, also elegant. Lily Tomlin, Laura Linney, Tea Leoni, Linda Lavin, and Kathleen Turner were among the stars. Some, like Tomlin, Smith, Love, like Taylor, had all been good friends with the former Texas governor who passed away at age 73 in 2006. Holland told me that Tom Hanks, her “Bosom Buddies” co-star from the early 80s, had already been in to see her.
Newly minted Oscar winner Anne Hathaway and husband Adam Shulman were also on hand, but there to support Anne’s mother Kate. Kate Hathaway is a producer on “Ann,” her first outing. Many Hathaways and Shulmans were present including Adams’s parents, and Kate’s attorney husband Jerry (Anne’s dad).
Taylor — who still recurs occasionally on “Two and a Half Men” after years as a regular– gives a monumental performance of a play she herself wrote. She captures Richards’ wit and wisdom, her bawdy humor and direct style perfectly. I don’t want to jinx it, but I dare say Holland Taylor is a likely Tony nominee and maybe even a winner. She’s superb. This is not an impersonation but an embodiment. The performance is so mesmerizing that at the end of it, Stritch came all the way down the steep staircase from the top of the orchestra seats (the Beaumont seats people on a steep incline) to the stage to applaud Taylor. “Marvelous,” she called to Taylor. I don’t how she got back up those stairs. In Detroit, I guess, there will be escalators.