Originally reviewed for GaySocialites.com.
Singing like Ethel Merman comes very naturally to Klea Blackhurst. Ethel’s voice was one of very few singing voices she heard in her early childhood, so she thought all singers sounded like that. As a result, in Everything the Traffic Will Allow: The Songs and Sass of Ethel Merman, Blackhurst’s oversized cabaret tribute to La Merm, she never stoops to mere imitation or any kind of aping parody of Merman’s more obvious mannerisms. She simply and naturally inhabits the spectacular sunrise-like open-throated style of singing that Merman brought to life.
As such, Blackhurst gives you some inkling of what Merman meant to “The Great American Songbook,” as the woman who became a star when she introduced the Gershwins’ “I Got Rhythm” to its first Broadway audiences in 1930—and then went on to become a favorite of such diverse (and great) composers as Berlin, Porter, Rodgers and Hart, right down to such still-living masters as Jerry Herman and Stephen Sondheim.
Blackhurst’s tribute to Broadway’s original broad makes you wonder why this singing marvel hasn’t had a turn on the Great White Way herself.
For tickets, click here.