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TTH opens with Merman tribute

Klea Blackhurst opens the 2019-20 Trumbull Town Hall lecture series with her tribute to entertainer Ethel Merman.

She will perform at Packard Music Hall on the same stage Merman appeared on with Kenley Players in “Call me Madam” in 1968.

Blackhurst has been doing her Merman tribute, “Everything the Traffic Will Allow,” since 2001. She first discovered the star listening to the Broadway cast recording of “Annie Get Your Gun” and later “Gypsy.”

On her website, Blackhurst writes about Merman, “According to people who were there, it is apparently impossible to describe the relationship she had with her audience. They say a good comparison doesn’t remotely exist.

“She is famous for being heard in the last row of the balcony at a time when there was no amplification. Songwriters adored writing for her and worshipped her ability to deliver their lyrics with beautiful phrasing, stunning style, and a wicked sense of comedy.

“Her lack of stage fright and unwavering professionalism are legendary. She was dazzling and gutsy, raising the bar to a new level for actresses and songwriters alike. Broadway became her home. She lived to perform for her audience and they would virtually crackle with excitement when she stepped onto the stage.”

Blackhurst has a long stage resume herself. She appeared Off-Broadway with Hayley Mills in the comedy “Party Face.” She starred in the world premiere of “Hazel” at Drury Lane in Chicago, played the titled character in the 50th anniversary production of “Hello, Dolly!” at the Goodspeed Opera House and was directed by Jerry Lewis in the musical version of “The Nutty Professor.”

The program starts at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Packard, 1703 Mahoning Ave. NW, Warren, with doors open at 9:30 a.m. Single tickets are $35 and are available through the Packard box office and through Ticketmaster.

Other programs in the 2019-20 season include:

l Nov. 20 — Maritime archaeologist and underwater explorer James Delgado

l March 18, 2020 — New Yorker magazine cartoonist Tom Toro

l April 15, 2020 — Actor Chris Lemmon

Season tickets good for all four lectures are $95. For season ticket information, call 330-240-1706.