A few things you might not know about actress/singer/dancer Eartha Kitt. She makes her home in Westport, Connecticut, with toy poodles. When she's not performing she doesn't wear makeup, is fond of sweatsuits, and might be seen in the neighborhood grocery store doing her own shopping. She's an admitted TV news and talk radio junkie, who's apt to pick up the phone and offer Guardian Angels founder/radio host Curtis Sliwa a happy birthday wish on the air. And after more than 50 years in show business, she still gets the jitters before going onstage.
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You might have imagined Kitt strutting around a New York City penthouse in full makeup and stilettos, purring like a sleek and sultry feline. After all, she made her Broadway debut in 1952 singing a tune titled "I Want to Be Evil." She was one of the memorable actresses who portrayed Catwoman on the Batman TV series in the late 1960s, and she penned an autobiography titled I'm Still Here: Confessions of a Sex Kitten. To find out Kitt is a rather ordinary gal instead of a Cruella DeVil clone is a bit of a letdown. But wait, that unassuming gal is Eartha Mae, a shy sort who shuns the spotlight. Eartha Kitt is someone else entirely. "When I'm Eartha Kitt, I'm on the stage and I'm doing whatever it is I feel at the moment," she says.
What Kitt has been doing at the moment is starring in "legitimate theater," as she calls the Broadway musical Nine. She'll come to Miami Beach this weekend to open a three-day, five-performance cabaret run at FifteenOOne Barton G, the former Billboardlive space taken over by Miami's acclaimed event maestro. Kitt acknowledges the standards that make up cabaret acts might be a tough sell, but the show biz veteran has been around long enough to know that "everything changes." Songs by the likes of Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis will never die, she notes. "They might not be as hot as what hip-hop is now," she says, "but if you stick around long enough, we all come back!"
FifteenOOne Barton G, 1501 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
Friday, February 13, through Sunday, February 15. Tickets range from $30 to $80. Call 305-672-8881 for reservations.