The first thing to say about Eartha Kitt is that she is an absolute original. In all the infinite variety of the music world, there’s no one quite like her. The second is that she continues to perform at peak levels.
On Tuesday, in the opening set of her six-night run at Catalina Bar & Grill, Kitt--garbed in a slinky gown with a leg-revealing slit up to the waist--gave a performance that had a capacity crowd on its feet shouting for more.
And the enthusiasm was fully justified, as Kitt defined both the intimacy and the humor of the cabaret art, moving easily from vamp to diva, from comedian to inspirational singer.
She combined “Guess Who I Saw Today” with “Leave You"--moving from the maudlin sentimentality of the former to the stirring endurance of the latter. Similarly, she added a roaring version of “I Will Survive” and ended up with a touching blend of “It Was a Very Good Year,” “September Song” and “Here’s to Life.”
She triggered instant audience interaction as the crowd spontaneously sang the backup phrases to her rendering of “C’est Si Bon.” And she frequently paused to transfix the men with her irresistible feline eyes.
Halfway through the show, the sensual, youthful-looking and sounding Kitt casually noted that she had turned 72 in January.
Maybe so, or maybe she just doesn’t realize that this is a town in which people lie to make their age 20 years younger, not 20 years older.
* Eartha Kitt at Catalina Bar & Grill, 1640 N. Cahuenga Blvd. 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday; 7 and 9 p.m. Sunday. $26-$36 and two drink minimum. (213) 466-2210.