Barefoot and dressed in black, with a shimmering blue jacket, she enters to a prolonged ovation, settles into her armchair and launches into a detailed description of her favorite dinner menu: roast leg of lamb, broiled tomatoes and Japanese eggplant, with a sourdough baguette, and, instead of a sweet for dessert, a nice cheese and some fresh fruit.
At the end of it, she has her audience in thrall, and for the next 80 minutes, she never lets them go.
This is not to be an autobiographical show, she insists, although she does tell tales of her Broadway days in "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Mame" and of her TV stints on "Maude" and "Golden Girls."
Instead, she says, the audience is to think of her as a dinner guest who won't shut up, and her show is to be a series of songs and stories she has collected over the years.
To further explain, she adds, "I'm sure you all have closets ..." When that gets a huge reaction from her many gay fans in the audience, she adds, with her brilliant comic timing, "No, not that closet!"
Accepting this kind of adulation, Arthur does not play or pander to it.
She takes it in stride, and goes straight about her business.
She explains why she's barefoot; she recalls her early days as an actress ("At that time I had long black hair and enormous breasts."); she shares memories with her friend and accompanist, the invaluable composer/pianist Billy Goldenberg; she tells dirty jokes daintily, even demurely; she remembers her times with Mae West, Angela Lansbury, Tony Curtis, Hal Linden, Pia Zadora, William Warfield, Talullah Bankhead and Jerome Robbins ("The only director who ever made me cry. He was a horrible person. Everybody hated him.")
She sings, briefly, "Bosom Buddies" from "Mame"; she admits she has always wanted to play Mama Rose in "Gypsy": and, for fun, she tosses off the little ditty "What Can You Get a Nudist for Her Birthday?"
But she saves her biggest moments in the spotlight for relatively unfamiliar songs from such shows as "Ballroom," "Knickerbocker Holiday" and, for a topper, "Three Penny Opera."
Best of all, as she leaves the stage to another ovation, she says, sharply, "I will not sing 'I'm Still Here.'"
And she doesn't.