Klea Blackhurst




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"If you like your Mamas Rose to be of the old school — the Ethel Merman type of stage mother, you might say, as distinct from the more nuanced, needy, or psychologically revisionist kinds of Mama — then Klea Blackhurst's classic interpretation of the greatest character in that musical masterpiece "Gypsy" will be your kind of Mama. The orchestra has rarely sounded louder at the Drury Lane Theatre. But neither brass nor wind nor errant cell phones are anything close to a match for Blackhurst's wide pipes, which belt out those Jule Styne tunes and perfect Stephen Sondheim lyrics with enough force, mastery and sheer force of will to blow half the traffic on the Eisenhower Expressway back to the city from which it ventured. Gimmicks are one thing; this kind of technique is another."

CHRIS JONES, Chicago Tribune  


"There are few roles in theatre that have become more iconic than that of Mama Rose in Gypsy. Considered one of the greatest roles ever written, it has played by almost every major Broadway powerhouse... Yes, there is always someone to compare the interpretation to. Well, Mama Rose lives in an incarnation all her own, thanks to the incredible Klea Blackhurst who gives an all out, take no prisoners approach to the ultimate stage mother….Ms. Blackhurst commands this production. She knows where she is going to take her character and everyone else in the cast gets on board for the ride. Her voice is crisp, clear, melodic and powerful."


"…sung with pure heart and soul by the wonderful Klea Blackhurst. What a voice! What range! Ladies and gentleman; no matter who you have seen in this role ( Ethel Merman, Rosalind Russell,Patti LuPone or Bette Middler) she is a combination of all of these strong ladies of the theater and yet, her demeanor is even more stage mother than the others; you really feel that she wants her June to have the success she dreamed about! Bravo, Ms. Blackhurst."

ALAN BRESLOFF,  Around the Town Chicago




"The show – has some solid assets, most notable of which is a thoroughly charming and engaging central performance by Blackhurst, who is close enough to Shirley Booth in delivery and deadpan comedic styling for Hazel to be recognizably Hazel but also brassy and bold enough with her vocals to both drive and anchor the show musically. Frankly, she may well be enough for this all-new and demonstrably enthusiastic comedy to do quite well… "

CHRIS JONES, Chicago tribune

"Klea Blackhurst is giving a rocket-fueled performance in the title role…  Hazel is not a woman to make a quiet entrance. And Blackhurst, whose Ethel Merman like pipes are paired with a warmer, yet still indomitable spirit, puts her stamp on the role from the minute she strides down the aisle of the theatre, in her pale blue uniform, playfully engages with members of the audience, and finally arrives onstage declaring 'Ya Gonna Need Help.'"

HEDY WEISS, Chicago Sun-Times

"Blackhurst quickly wins the audience over with her extreme likability, big brassy vocals and sheer star power."

RICHARD PAHL, Lake County Journal

"Klea Blackhurst is a lovable treasure. From her first chatty entrance, Blackhurst has adoring audiences in the palm of her hand, as she embodies the title character…"

SCOTT C. MORGAN, Windy City Times

"One might argue the show’s promise lies in Blackhurst’s impeccable characterization of Hazel."

BARRT RESZEL, Chicagoland Musical Theatre




“She's a lovely lady, with an innate sense of humor who has a powerhouse voice… a great Dolly is someone who knows how to take over a stage. We have that with Klea.”



“When Horace Vandergelder closes Hello, Dolly!   by exclaiming, “Wonderful woman!” we have to agree with him. And thanks to Ms. Blackhurst, we do — it takes someone with her innate aplomb to chow down on corn on the cob in elbow-length white gloves without looking ridiculous.”

Sylviane Gold, The New York Times




“Klea Blackhurst breaks out of her second banana role of Miss Lemon, the adoring secretary to Dr. Warfield, to very nearly steal the show… an adept comic actress, with a smile that lights up the entire theater, Blackhurst has a confident way of delivering even the most throwaway line with vitality and a refined sense of freshness that renders it totally effective and, well, new…”

Jeffrey Ellis, Broadwayworld.com  

“The term "showstopper" is basically just empty hyperbole at this point. But if you want to see the true definition of the term — a performance so enthusiastically received it essentially halts the production — check out the new stage musical of The Nutty Professor  at TPAC's Polk Theatre…in the two performances we've seen, one actor brings down the house without fail — It's supporting player Klea Blackhurst, who uses her moment in the spotlight like a stick of dynamite catching a spark...

Jim Ridley , Nashville Scene