Review: ONE OF THE GIRLS Is a Springtime Sensation at Chelsea Table + Stage

Kinetic Klea Blackhurst triumphs again, this time with Jerry Herman songs

By: May. 13, 2024
Review: ONE OF THE GIRLS Is a Springtime Sensation at Chelsea Table + Stage
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The night starts with a bang: something Jerry Herman added for the movie version of  Hello, Dolly!, that musical about a matchmaker.  And what a truly perfect match is the ebullience of  Klea Blackhurst – who beams peppy, perky, percolating positive energy — and the optimism that runs through the happy Herman melodies and lyrics.  The singer enters by coming down the stairway leading to the customers’ tables and the stage at Chelsea Table + Stage, joyfully jumping into the jaunty “Just Leave Everything to Me.” Confidence arrives, too.  “I’ll arrange for making all arrangements,” she chirps with cheer; her own marvelous musical arrangements are by longtime colleague Michael Rice (piano), who is joined by bassist Tom Hubbard and drummer Aaron Russell.  These expert players are with her every step of the wonderful way, ready to step in later with musical punctuation or a cue if she should so need.  And the opener is followed by more from the life-affirming 1964 score, as the venue’s lights become sunshine.  

But getting merry with Jerry is not a new “Klea Idea.”  The May 5th event was not the maiden voyage for this tour through Hermanland and hardly the first time the writer’s work has been in her throat and heart.  Back in Utah, she had the title role in Mame when she was in high school, she’s belted out his material in concerts, and, yes, she’s played Dolly (at Connecticut’s Goodspeed Opera House, where she’s currently in the cast of the new musical A Complicated Woman).  

The set list for One of the Girls: The Words and Music of Jerry Herman sampled several scores, and included some numbers wherein the bright side lurked underneath more serious statements, with the will to win the thing that wins the day: the proud “I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles and the encouragement in the title song of Dear World.  That musical’s “I Don’t Want to Know” made the case for determined denial and shutting out ugly realities.  True despair was allowed a cameo via “Time Heals Everything” from Mack and Mabel (“Time heals everything but loving you”).  But, the mood kept getting lightened with the fun and frolicsome fare, like the pizzazzy “Just Go to the Movies” and the plucky “My Type,” dusted off from an early-career Herman revue and handed down to Miss Blackhurst by the songwriter.  (Yes, they had a mutual admiration and she got to know him and visited him in Florida in his later years.)

As with the other entries in the ongoing series of Blackhurst bonanzas called “The Box Set” (which will return this fall after a hiatus),  there’s lots of talk and anecdotes filled with entertaining info, observations, wit, and lightly self-deprecating remarks.  The down-to-earth gal tells us of the ups and downs of Jerry Herman’s life and career: his supportive parents; his admiration for Irving Berlin’s songs; losing the love of his life to AIDS and learning he was infected with HIV himself; the shows that didn’t run very long; writing Hello, Dolly! for Ethel Merman to star in and having her stubbornly decline over and over, then take over the role after it had run for over six years on Broadway.  Other star names are dropped, with several who played Dolly before Ethel set to the tune of Mame’s “It’s Today.”  

It’s a lovefest from the first.  The cheering, laughing, applauding audience is in the palm of her hand, gleeful from the moment she came down those stairs, entering an NYC restaurant like their old friend, just as Dolly descends the steps to come back to a NYC restaurant and begins the sung greetings of the famous title number.  And even though Klea Blackhurst didn’t actually burst into the song “Hello, Dolly,” she had us at hello.

Find more about Klea Blackhurst on her website at

Find more great shows to see at Chelsea Table + Stage on their website: 

The Box Set series continues on Sunday, September 15 at 7:00 pm with DREAMING OF A SONG: The Music of Hoagy Carmichael


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