From the Stars and Stripes archives

Eartha Kitt wins raves in Welles' show at Frankfurt

Orson Welles is the center of attention during a gathering in Germany in August, 1950.


By WIN FANNING | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 13, 1950

FRANKFURT, Aug. 12 — A very lovely young lady who sings songs — and writes them herself — an Irish actor, and an American Jack-of-all-theatrical-trades are now appearing In a production called "An Evening With Orson Welles" being presented before EUCOM personnel and German residents of Frankfurt at the theater in the zoo.

The title is misleading. Welles is indeed around most of the two-and-a-half hours, and acquits himself well in his own version of "Faust" (based on material by Marlowe, Milton and Dante), and also delivers a superb soliloquy in a scene from Shakespeare's "Henry VI."

Eartha Kitt, whose haunting rendition of Duke Ellington's "Hungry Little Trouble" blends beautifully with the poetry of "Faust," quite literally steals the show. The petite 22-year-old South Carolinian invariably draws applause by her singing of "Yo Creo Yo Tengo un Amor" (I Think I Have a Love), a song she wrote herself. Her brief recital between the dramatic portions of the production is certainly worth the price of admission.

As a whole, the show suffers by trying to offer too much. The admittedly talented Welles seems to display all his tricks, dramatic and otherwise, within too short a time. Supported by Micheal MacLiammoir and Miss Kitt, he presents a convincing and artistic "Faust," although one wonders if the piece would not go over more effectively on the radio or as a television production.

Unfortunately, Welles has detracted from his major presentation by offering a bit out of Oscar Wilde's comedy "The Importance of Being Earnest," a number of thoroughly professional card tricks and the "Henry VI" scene, to say nothing of Miss Kitt's recital, all between 8:30 and 11 p.m.

There is no doubt, however, that for those who would like to see "The Third Man" without his unpleasant Viennese friends, "An Evening with Orson Welles" will prove enjoyable.

It is hard to believe the program note describing him as "a giant with the face of a child, a tree filled with birds," but Welles' fine voice, his engaging personality, which he manages to get over to the audience with commendable ease, and his masterful delivery of his own and other men's poetry make even the hodge-podge of this production worth going to see.

Micheal MacLiammoir lights a cigarette for Eartha Kitt.