*An Evening With Eartha Kitt,* 10/18/19
Richard and I saw *An Evening With Eartha Kitt* at The Green Room on 42 on 10/18/19.
It was a tribute to the late great Eartha Kitt, done by a group that does cabaret-style tributes to various people and groups, led by music director Blake Allen.
Candice Marie Woods started things off with a searing performance of “Sell Me,” full of power and sass. James Cricthon sang “Back In Business” - - he had a strong voice but was completely tied to his music (a common problem that evening) and was wearing a plaid flannel shirt. Of course I adore a good plaid flannel, but it was not the proper look for this gig.
Morgan Siobhan Green was one of the strongest performers, totally nailing “Monotonous,” Kitt’s show-stopping and career-launching number from *New Faces of 1952.* De Haas was adorable, knew exactly what she was doing, had the audience in the palm of her hand.
Aisha de Haas sang “Guess Who I Saw Today,” an incredible song that was spellbinding in her rendition. She’s a pro, her voice is ripe and multi-faceted, and she looked like a dream in her black cocktail dress covered in paillettes.
Jack Scott was another stand-out, singing “St. Louis Blues.” Richard correctly classified him as “the second coming of Mel Tormé. He has a sexy, distinctive voice, and was greatly aided by the fabulous arrangement, which started with just bass and bongos. The arrangements were all by music director Blake Allen, and they were first class, they added so much. Of course it helps to have a crackerjack band of eight (piano, drums, guitar, trumpet, winds, violin, viola, cello, and bass).
One performer really got on my nerves, and I’ll be kind and not say his name. He had a killer look: shaved head, major bling necklace, open jacket, trim Capri pants, high heels. But a vixenish outfit and high diva stage manner is not a substitute for knowing the damn song! I was not fooled, that smoke and mirrors routine won’t work with me.
Josh Daniel sang “I’m Still Here.” He’s thirty years too young to do that song, but he sang it well! And in Eartha’s key! Caitlin Fahey sang a funny song, “An Englishman Needs Time.” That was a hoot.
Spencer Glass was the best performer on the program, singing “I’d Rather Be Burned As a Witch.” His was the most polished performance of the night, he knew exactly what he was doing, knew exactly what worked for him and what worked for the song, and the audience went nutty for him. I’d seen one or two videos of him online, but had never seen him in person. He’s a major talent and I will definitely be seeing him again. Here’s Spencer doing “I Wanna Be a Rockette” at 54 Below:
That guy who was tap-dancing on my last gay nerve got ANOTHER number, one of Kitt’s best songs, “Champagne Taste.” There was a binder on a music stand that presumably had the music for the whole show. It took him a few minutes (a lifetime) to find his music, and the band indulgently vamped while he paged through it. I have two solutions to this problem: 1) Bring your own damn binder onto the stage, or better yet, 2) LEARN THE DAMN SONG. Here’s Kitt herself doing it in Australia in 1995:
Kerry Conte wasn’t the last on the program, but her performance was amazing. She did a medley of “September Song,” “Lazy Afternoon,” “Autumn Leaves” (in French), and “Jonny” (in German). She sang them all with moxie, total command of the idiom, and a beguiling throaty Weltschmerz. She’s another one I’d like to see again.
It was a fun evening, we enjoyed it a lot. But one thing was missing: I was praying for days (yes, saying actual prayers) that someone would perform my favorite Eartha Kitt number, her version of “Come On-A My House” in Japanese:
I know it’s a lot to ask that someone would learn this song in Japanese, but it would have made me so happy!
The An Evening With… group is doing a tribute to Shirley Bassey (!!!) in December, but sadly I already have plans that night. But next season looks promising: Henry Mancini, Rosemary Clooney, Julie Andrews, and The Carpenters! Oh yes, thank you!