Lauren Bacall, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 89, will be remembered partly as the seductive, husky-voiced film star who played opposite Humphrey Bogart throughout the 1940s in films such as To Have and Have Not, Dark Passage and Key Largo. Later, she appeared on Broadway. In 1970 she won a Tony award for her role in the musical, Applause. It was her first appearance singing onstage and she was coached by the show’s composer, Charles Strouse. While Lauren Bacall clearly fell into the category of “actress” rather than “singer” in the conventional sense, she definitely knew how to convey the drama of a song.
Strouse seems to have an occasional affinity for songs which start out with quiet energy, gradually build and then explode at the end. A Lot of Livin’ to Do in Bye Bye Birdie is an example. For another example, listen to Bacall sing But Alive from the original cast recording of Applause below. The show is an adaption of the film, All About Eve.
Watch an interview with Charles Strouse and learn about his career as a Broadway songwriter here and here. Read Terry Teachout’s tribute to Lauren Bacall at his blog, About Last Night.
1 thought on “But Alive”
I saw Lauren Bacall in “Applause” in July of 1970 in Boston. Lauren ‘s portrayal of Margo Channing was mesmerizing. Although Bacall was certainly not a singer, she brought life to each of her numbers and her acting was convincing as was Penny Fuller’s in the role of Eve. But then Rex Harrison was no singer but he made the role of Mr. Higgins forever his in “My Fair Lady” both on the stage opposite Julie Andrews and in the film with the incomparable Audrey Hepburn!