Matching Elaine Stritch to her signature "The Ladies Who Lunch" takes us back to the original production of Sondheim's Company waaaaaay back in 1970. The recording of the cast album was filmed by documentarian D.A. Pennebaker, and the resulting movie includes this remarkable sequence of Ms. Stritch tackling her big number. It's two o'clock in the morning after a long, exhausting day in the studio, and she just isn't delivering to the satisfaction of the producer or composer/lyricist. And they're not afraid to tell her.
(I saw this documentary years ago, and I don't remember its having the later-day audio commentary by Stritch and others that's on this YouTube exerpt. I could be wrong. But either way, it's brave of the actress to let us see one of her least successful moments.)
So why is her recording of the song from these sessions regarded as one of the all-time great performances of a show-tune? Just see what happens when she comes back to try again the next morning. That's a professional.
This time I remembered to grab the code that embeds the video in the appropriate width for my blog, But I make no apology for yesterday's sprawl, which obscured my contents column, or for whatever it's still hiding today. The stunning Audra McDonald should be enjoyed in her maximum glory.