Robert Massimi Theater Review.
“Down To Eartha”
It is wonderful to see an actor in “method” whether on screen or stage. In “Down To Eartha” Dierdra McDowell who wrote and starred in this show at Gail Thacker’s Gene Frankel Theater is right on point as Eartha Kitt. The show is only an hour long and solely deals with when Kitt was invited to the White House to meet with Ladybird Johnson and 49 other women of notoriety in the U.S. in 1968. Kitt who comes from a South Carolina plantation is pro American but against the Vietnam war. When Kitt states her displeasure of the war she gets blackballed for ten years and is unable to find work. In the end of the show we see Kitt in Paris France, but it is unclear if that is where she had to go to find work or if the United States entertainment industry decided to hire her back at the age of forty.
“Eartha” is better when it has dialogue, the singing, although necessary to show that she was a singer before an actress, is not as enjoyable as the stage play. McDowell is silky, sultry enough to keep the audience interested, however, when she sings and shakes it. McDowell is every bit as sexy as Kitt. With the cadence, phrases, movements down, the audience believes Kitt is performing for us live. Under direction of Marishka S. Phillips, McDowell moves about freely on stage. In the shows more serious moments, the pain of her life resonates. Not willing to ever be defeated, McDowell oozes the toughness that was Kitt; her quick wit on the talk show is Kitt to a science.
As a solo show in one hour, McDowell is able to both command the role and keep us entertained. This show could be a force if it could procure a second act too it. Certainly, Kitt had enough of a career to delve into more of her life. As a one act, one hour play, it is certainly respectable, a second act could make this one that could be a factor in the off-Broadway scene. “Down To Eartha” will be back at the Frankel Theater in June; it may play at another theater in-between now and June.
Prezi, SoundCloud, Ice Hockey, Harvey School, Eartha Kitt, off Broadway, National Arts Club, MJ The Musical, The Music Man, Dramatists Guild, The Drama League, Behance.com, Word Press, Tik Toc, Metropolitan Playhouse, New York Lifestyles Magazine.