[JPL] Hey, Big Spender, This Purr’s for You (Especially if You’re 82)

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 20 15:34:56 EDT 2007

September 20, 2007
Music Review | Eartha Kitt 
Hey, Big Spender, This Purr’s for You (Especially if
You’re 82) 
Who else but that eternal femme fatale Eartha Kitt
could announce with a straight face from the stage, “I
may be 80, but I’m still burning,” and have it be
partly true? 

This was how Ms. Kitt followed her rendition of “I’ve
Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” on Tuesday in her
opening night show at the newly renovated Café
Carlyle. Actually, Ms. Kitt’s face was not so
straight. During a show that found her prowling the
stage in a dark red velvet dress, she was unable to
contain her amusement at her gold-digger routine. Or
as she said, widening her cat’s eyes into a ravenous
stare and scouring a room filled with well-heeled
patrons before breaking into a grin, “Je cherche un

Woe be the male ringside patron who becomes her cat
toy for the evening, as she queries him in several
different languages and coyly inquires about his
financial status. If he is young, the chances are she
will soon lose interest and suggest he introduce her
to his father. In “Too Young to Be Meant for Me,” one
of her wittiest songs on Tuesday, she impatiently
brushes off a 20-year-old admirer and tells him not to
wait: “Can’t you see I’ve got a date with someone rich
and 82?” 

It is fascinating to watch the flickers at the corners
of Ms. Kitt’s lips and eyes during these audience
questionnaires. The peevish scowl of an arrogant siren
who has been through this ritual a thousand times can
suddenly turn into the cunning grin of a carnivore
about to pounce on a juicy morsel of filet mignon. 

The gold digger is just one aspect of this performer
with many layers. “Everything Changes,” the
centerpiece of her new show is a sweet, fatalistic
lament with music by Brian Feinstein and lyrics by
Diana Hansen-Young that she introduced last year in
the Off Broadway musical “Mimi Le Duck.” Ms. Kitt shed
several layers of armor to play an aged bohemian whose
famous friends and lovers have all died. Her haunted
performance of it on Tuesday evening put the final
coat of polish on a song that suggests “Memory” from
“Cats,” but with famous names dropped, including
Picasso and Sartre.

For a music critic the extensive renovation of the
Café Carlyle promises much. The room is brighter and
airier without having lost its cozy elegance. The
raised ceiling has improved its muffled acoustics,
which are further enhanced by the installation of a
modern sound system. Ms. Kitt’s band (Daryl Waters on
piano, Jon Burr on bass, Joseph Friedman on guitar,
Brian Grice on drums and Carlos Gomez on percussion)
had noticeably more bite than the past, and Ms. Kitt’s
voice was in full growl.

Eartha Kitt appears through Oct. 27 at the Café
Carlyle, Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street,
Manhattan; (212) 744-1600, thecarlyle.com.


Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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