She’s got rhythm and music, so who could ask for anything more from a singer performing an Ethel Merman tribute concert?
The spirit of Merman, the Broadway star who made George Gershwin standards like “I Got Rhythm” famous, will be resurrected this month in the show, “Everything the Traffic Will Allow: The Songs and Sass of Ethel Merman” at the Kingsborough Performing Arts Center.
The performance is a theater junkie’s goldmine, featuring pop-jazz versions of classic tunes from “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Hello Dolly” and “Girl Crazy.”
“Ethel Merman starred in 13 Broadway shows throughout her 40-year career, so I just went through my favorite songs to craft a semi-biographical homage to her,” said Klea Blackhurst, who wrote and stars in the show.
Blackhurst fell in love with Merman’s work as a child growing up in Salt Lake City, but she doesn’t try to imitate Merman’s nasal-heavy vocals. Rather, she uses her light, soft-pitched voice, bringing her own flair to the upbeat songs. She’s also backed by The Pocket Change Trio, which features a drummer, bassist and pianist.
“We’ve really added some swing to the music to make it sound fresher for the modern crowd,” Blackhurst said. “You don’t even need to know who Ethel Merman is to enjoy the show, you just need to appreciate musical theatre.”
“Everything the Traffic Will Allow: The Songs and Sass of Ethel Merman” at the Kingsborough Performing Arts Center at Kingsborough Community College [2001 Oriental Blvd. at Decatur Avenue in Manhattan Beach, (718) 368-5596], Nov. 20 at 8 pm. Tickets $25. For info, visit www.kcckpac.org.