Regional Reviews: Seattle
Still The Kitt's Meow
Stephen Sondheim didn't write "I'm Still Here" for Eartha Kitt, but it's in her repertoire and, at 77, the sassy and effervescent shows no signs of slowing down. A recent performance of hter 75-minute tune fest had a packed house of Seattle fans, as demographically mixed as could be, purring and howling for more.
It's actually a shame that Ms. Kitt never played Sally Bowles in Cabaret because she is one of the last vestiges of the kind of cabaret entertainer that once dominated the clubs, in the personage of such stalwarts as Mabel Mercer, Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich. She slinks onstage singing the sassy "Sell Me," demanding a show of affection. Such a demand is hardly required, as the crowd is with her from the get go, and she never loses her hold.
Though most of her tunes are familiar Kitt favorites, I have seen her three times at Jazz Alley in the past decade and she has always kept her show feeling fresh and alive. "I Wanna Be Evil" is as insinuatingly hilarious as ever. "C'est Si Bon" is a fresh as it must have been during Eartha's New Faces of 1952 run. Her multi-syllabic foreign language numbers never fail to amaze, and she is happy to oblige with a few phrases of an impromptu Filipino folk song when she hears there are audience members who hail from the Philippines (then saucily chastises them when it turns out they aren't). She also shimmies and struts like a woman half her age, and in a very funny story admits that a recent search for her birth records revealed her to have been born a year later than she thought she had. Age however is irrelevant with this dazzling dame, and she is given superlative musical support here by longtime pianist Daryl Waters, drummer Milo Peterson, and bass player Chuck Kistler.
In a simple, stunning and quite moving closing trio of songs ("September Song", "It Was A Very Good Year", and "Here's to Life") the eternal Catwoman pulls back her claws and melts our hearts. In short, 75 minutes with Eartha Kitt goes by way too fast. Your trips to Seattle can't be frequent enough, Miss Kitt. Just one request; Next time bring back "I'm Still Here." Nobody does it better.
Eartha Kitt continues at Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Avenue, Downtown Seattle, through Sunday May 23. Tickets are $29.50-$33.50. For reservations call (206) 441-9729, or visit Jazz Alley online at www.jazzalley.com.- David-Edward Hughes