EVERYTHING THAT TRAFFIC WILL ALLOW
KLEA BLACKHURST MAKES ETHEL MERMAN COME ALIVE
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
There’s no business like show business and no musical stage performer like the late Ethel Merman. However, the closest you will ever get to Merman’s electricity is Klea Blackhurst’s singing-act, “Everything That Traffic Will Allow,” currently at Music Theatre of Connecticut (MTC). This one-woman performance will hold your attention throughout. Blackhurst not only sounds like Merman as she emulates her rich voice and song-styling, she is a wonderful theatre historian and amusing story teller all wrapped into one package. And, this package is topped with a sparkling bow – Blackhurst’s personality that is. The artist has a knack of putting herself and the audience at ease -- making everyone feel as if they are family members gathered in her living room.
Like a living room, MTC is an intimate theatre and although one is seated only yards from the performer, Blackhurst’s extensive voice range comes through the sound-system without being overpowering. Unlike the recent, one-woman revivals of famous jazz singers, her rendition of the songs that made Merman popular, “I Got Rhythm,” “Johnny One Note,” “Doin’ What Comes Naturally, “Everything’s Coming up Roses” etc. etc. every word can be heard and yet it doesn’t sound as if she is shouting at you. Accompanying Blackhurst on the grand piano is Bruce Barnes, who not only plays well, he also sings a little.
For a very pleasant evening of songs performed in the style of the unforgettable, Ethel Merman plus some interesting, theatrical anecdotes, “Everything That Traffic Will Allow,” will leave you singing all the way home.
Plays in Westport for three weekends until October 24. Phone 203.454.3883
This review appears in ON CONNECTICUT THEATRE - OCTOBER/2010