Ever worldly and world-weary, but now also perfectly willing to make fun of her image as the 1950s' most conspicuous consumer of millionaires, champagne and yachts, Eartha Kitt opened a two-week engagement at Charlie's in Georgetown last night. The mouth is a little poutier and the lids a tad heavier these days, but wrapped in fox and and a beaded gown that exposes a generous portion of thigh, the lady's clearly in fine form.
In her introductory number, "I'm Still Here," she disposes of the past, including the celebrated run-in with Lady Bird Johnson that brought her career momentarily to a stop. Otherwise, she concentrates on seduction--real, imagined and parodied. The roster of songs include "Mad About the Boy" to a bongo beat, an up-tempo "The Gentleman's a Dope," a plaintive "Lilac Wine" and the trademark "I Wanna Be Evil," plus some special material she herself has penned about the sundry lessons the ups and downs of life have taught her. Through it all, she purrs and grrs, snaps her consonants like rubber bands and extends her vowels like taffy, a style that deftly straddles the line between high exoticism and high camp.
Kitt looked a bit out of place in her last Washington outing, "Timbuktu!"--that department store window masquerading as a musical. She's a master at working the ringsiders in a supper club, however. She cajoles them. She stares them down. She flirts with them in French and other languages. Vamps may no longer behave that way today. The planet might be a lot more amusing if they did.