Why Is Eartha Kitt Trying to Kill Me?

Why Is Eartha Kitt Trying to Kill Me?: A Love Story

Music by Jeffrey Dennis Smith

Libretto by David Johnston

“This is opera? It was only an hour. The music was jazzy and energetic. It was funny. There was gratuitous partial nudity. The leading role was the only one singing (or speaking!). The story gradually exposes the depth of the lead’s psychosis…. Well, okay, there’s the opera.”- Brett Dodson, MD Theatre Guide
Click here to read the full review

Why is Eartha Kitt Trying to Kill Me? A Love Story has a contemporary, jazzy, edgy score with lyrics to match. It dives into the muddled mind of a character named JB Williams, a greyish kind of blend-in-with-the-crowd man obsessed with a very new, younger lover and art world star named Joey Cocteau.”- David Siegel, DCMetroTheaterArts
Click here to read the full review

Why is Eartha Kitt Trying to Kill Me?: A Love Story is a new one-act opera about a mysterious – and unlikely – murder suspect. A tour de force love story and mad scene all in one, a man shares his bizarre confession concerning the fate of a hot, young, art world star. Smith’s score blends elements of jazz with an edgy contemporary sound, creating an energy that propels the story forward.


Why Is Eartha Kitt Trying to Kill Me – Google Song from UrbanArias on Vimeo.

Images by C. Stanley Photography


Keith Jameson as JB Williams

with Actor Ben Peter

Conducted by Robert Wood
Directed by Sam Helfrich

Why Is Eartha Kitt Trying to Kill Me?: A Love Story was written under the auspices of the Composer Librettist Development Program at American Lyric Theater in New York City.


The setting is a police interrogation room in Queens, New York. The time is the present. A young man, JB Williams, tells an unseen police detective that he is innocent. He begins to tell a strange story, about an unknown crime and the late cabaret/film star Eartha Kitt. His life is in danger. He pleads for help. JB relates how he saw Eartha Kitt about a month ago, just before he met the love of his life, Joey Cocteau, an up and coming young artist.He tells the detective about the first time he saw Joey – on the cover of a gay magazine. It was love at first sight and JB decides he must meet him. He tells of their first meeting. He recalls seeing Eartha Kitt for the second time, while doing his laundry. She threatens his life with a machete. He tells of everything he knows about Joey and how he learned this information. He describes the events of today, leading up to his interrogation. He goes to the Met Museum where he has another encounter with Eartha Kitt.He flees in a cab and goes to Queens. He arrives at his boyfriend’s art opening. At the opening, JB follows Joey up to the roof. Joey lashes out and JB pushes him from the roof. Joey falls but then starts to fly. His body twists and flies and turns into hundreds and hundreds of Eartha Kitts. JB acknowledges that a body was found on the street, outside the building. But he insists that he is innocent and pleads for understanding.



UrbanArias’ production of Why Is Eartha Kitt Trying to Kill Me?: A Love Story is supported by a very generous gift from the Arlington Arts Commission.