Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF EARTHA KITT is Purrrrfectly Fierce at Vincent Victoria Productions

Review: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF EARTHA KITT is Purrrrfectly Fierce  at Vincent Victoria Productions THE DISAPPEARANCE OF Eartha Kitt is a lot like the real life star it is based on.... a little kooky, over the top, sort of sexy, and exotically entertaining. One can't help but imagine Eartha herself would be flattered by Vincent Victoria's production that chronicles her life up to her comeback in 1978's TIMBUKTU. The show is a valentine to the rolling "r" and the unique charisma that was Kitt. It was a dazzling life, and we get to see quite a bit of it in this play.

Because no actress could ever recreate the many facets of this icon the director wisely enlisted no less than four women to portray Eartha Kitt in varying stages. In another interesting turn, these ladies often appear together and speak in unison like a Greek chorus of sex kittens relating the story. What it means is each actress is free to express her "Eartha-ness" using the best of her abilities. 1968 Eartha is played by Pasha Angelle who looks the most like the real life lady, and she has the vocal cadence down pat. She gets to portray the pivotal moment at the White House where Eartha spoke out on the Vietnam War and poverty and ended up on the President's personal hit list. She's the best actress of the three. In contrast Erica Young is the "sex kitten" early career Eartha. She sings and dances the best, and is charged with carrying many of the musical numbers that recreate the unique singing delivery of the chanteuse. There is also Pashion Duncan who gets to play the regal "Comeback Eartha". She plays Grand Dame extremely well, and brings a world weariness other actresses could never embody. Venise Watson plays the youngest version, and she is sweetly innocent and dreamy enough to carry that part of Eartha's life. Venise also makes a convincing Melba Moore which is an ironic turn that comes later in the evening. Together these four work together to create what feels like we are witnessing Eartha materialize in front of us. It's a joyful treat to meet each version, and a perfect way to handle the needs of portraying this much history.

Vincent Victoria has assembled his reliable "company" of local talent to fill out the rest of the cast to play many parts swirling around Eartha's star. Todd Greenfield and Katie Morgan recreate LBJ and Ladybird Johnson. Neither truly looks old enough to pull off the physical part, but they certainly carry themselves well enough to create the illusion of the President and his First Lady. Most of the rest of the ensemble pulls out many roles, and all do a fine job supporting the vision. Standouts include Wykesha King, Carlos Sanchez, CarrieLee Sparks, and Michael Venebale who all add extra oomph to their parts. There is a sly and funny cameo where the director himself steps in as the director of Eartha's Broadway show. Honestly there's a great sense of ensemble, and each actor adds to the production's charm and frenetic energy. They whirl through the space so quickly sometimes it's hard not to worry about them, but they are pros through and through.

Technically it's a straightforward show with just enough set to evoke the places. Costumes are period perfect, and often actually mirror actual outfits made famous in photographs of the people. Nicholas Lewis and Daniel Brown have kept it simple, and that is the right choice given the smaller space. Musical direction by Julio Petersen is spot on and well executed. It goes along without a hitch, and adds so much to the show.

Vincent Victoria has made a name for himself by recreating black female icons that loom large over our cultural imagination. Eartha Kitt like Lena Horne defied the beauty standards of her time to create her own definition of what a leading lady should look and act like. This production shows a lot of love for its subject, and a respect in presenting a sense of her that rings true throughout. The best part about the show is that his cast has completely bought in to his mission, and they embrace it as their own. It challenges the audience's perception of who Eartha was, and reminds us that Presidents truly have interfered with citizens before our era of being called out on Twitter. There will never be another Eartha Kitt, but thankfully there are projects like this one that remind us why she was a national treasure. We could use more like her right now - women of conviction who never hesitate to speak their mind. And women wild enough to tame even Batman.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF Eartha Kitt runs through December 15th at Midtown Art Center. Tickets can be acquired through or directly at .

Theatre Southwest Announces Cast and Creative Team For SILENT SKY Photo
Theatre Southwest has announced its cast and creative team for Silent Sky, written by Lauren Gunderson.

Alley Theatre Receives $20,000 Grant For The National Endowment for the Arts Photo
The Tony Award-winning Alley Theatre is a recipient of a 20,000 NEA Grant for Arts Projects. This month, the grant will support the launch of a new initiative that culminates during Afro-Caribbean poet and Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott's, The Odyssey. Heroes Within: A Celebration of Victorious Journeys, is a project connecting the Epic play's hero's journey to the heroic experiences pertinent to Houston's Black community.

Interview: Co-Stage Directors Nicole Kenley-Miller and Lawrence Edelson Share With Us the  Photo
For this weekend only, the University of Houston will be presenting SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM, a musical revue of the work of Stephen Sondheim. Co-stage directors of the production Nicole Kenley-Miller and Lawrence Edelson shared an inside scoop about the unique show and the collaboration that has gone into building this truly special production.

Main Street Theater Presents Thomas Gibbons PERMANENT COLLECTION Photo
Main Street Theater (MST) is presenting Thomas Gibbons' riveting play, Permanent Collection. Inspired by events at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, one of the world's greatest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist & modern art, the play explores the impact of race and racial equity on society, through the lens of visual art.

From This Author - Brett Cullum

Brett Cullum has been part of the Houston and Memphis Theatre scenes for several decades now. He's been seen on community theatre and professional stages in several cities including Playhouse 1... (read more about this author)

Review: STIRS UP STILL THINGS at Ishida Dance CompanyReview: STIRS UP STILL THINGS at Ishida Dance Company
January 6, 2023

If true art is the ability to tell a story through a medium, then what this group has achieved is a remarkable level of marrying movement with narrative. Rarely have I witnessed dance where emotions and poetry are so clear, and performed with such passion.

January 3, 2023

If the past is any indication, this is one you do not want to miss! The level of skill is amazing, and on par with any professional Houston dance company. And the choreographers brought in to work on the pieces are world renowned.

Review: THE COLORED FOLKS GOOD TIME HOUR at Vincent Victoria PresentsReview: THE COLORED FOLKS GOOD TIME HOUR at Vincent Victoria Presents
December 15, 2022

After seeing this film, I can’t get Cherry Cola Pitts out of my mind. He haunts me in the best of ways. Vincent embodies the character so well, and there are moments where you can see a sadness emerge from behind the otherwise leering prankster.

Review: CRUEL INTENTIONS - THE 90S MUSICAL at The Garden TheatreReview: CRUEL INTENTIONS - THE 90S MUSICAL at The Garden Theatre
November 19, 2022

It’s a rock musical featuring all of the naughty behavior of the original film and marries it to the “hits of the day” that were hot when it came out. Innuendos about “booty sex” merge with Backstreet Boys hits in a jukebox musical that revels in the absurdity of the original concept.

Review: COYOTE ON A FENCE at Dirt Dogs TheatreReview: COYOTE ON A FENCE at Dirt Dogs Theatre
October 31, 2022

This is a morally complex piece of theater, and luckily the cast is up to the challenge of bringing these people to life without judgment or any trace of hesitation. The language, the situations, the truths, are all difficult matters that have to be handled directly and confidently.