Eartha Kitt, not in the best of form, opened a two-week stint at Charlie's last evening with what is said to be the embryo of a one-woman musical, a la Lena Horne. Embryonic the show certainly is, with Kitt trading on her fabled past as man-eater and conspicuous consummer of yachts, but failing to strike any new notes or significantly renew her image as the lady and the tiger.
The first sound out of her mouth is a hiss, which establishes the generally defiant tone of her hour set. "If you like me, you better show it," she sings, fixing the ringsiders with a characteristically fierce stare. The warning did not register last night as tongue in cheek; overmiking made it downright threatening.
Although Kitt ranges from Sondheim ("Leave You," "I'm Still Here") to calypso to her trademark "I Want to Be Evil," the material seems largely cut from the same musical cloth. Likewise, the patented growls and purrs become repetitive in fairly short order. What's clearly called for is a fresh look at the singer's once-unique repertory. Even the celebrated "C'est Si Bon" disappoints this time. If nothing else, Kitt needs to brush up on her French grammar.