Klea Blackhurst will star as Broadway legend Ethel Merman in an industry reading of the Broadway-bound musical Merman’s Apprentice on October 4, alongside Carly Rose Sonenclar, Michael McCormick, Tony nominee Anita Gillette and more. Directed by Igor Goldin, Merman’s Apprentice features a book and lyrics by Stephen Cole and music by David Evans. No opening dates, theater or Broadway casting have been set.
In addition to Blackhurst as Merman, the reading will star McCormick as famed producer David Merrick, Gillette as Ethel’s Mom, Adam Heller (Victor/Victoria) as Moe Plakenstein, Tony nominee Tim Jerome (Me and My Girl) as Ethel’s Pop, Jamison Stern (By Jeeves) as Goldie, James Beaman (The Road to Qatar!) as Marvin and Sonenclar as Muriel Plakenstein. The reading will also feature Sarah Sesler, Molly Rushing and Leslie Alexander.
Set in 1970, Merman’s Apprentice is the story of 12-year-old Muriel Plakenstein, who runs away from home to become a Broadway star. She meets the Queen of Broadway, Ethel Merman, who takes her to a Hello, Dolly! rehearsal and the two sing together. When Legendary producer David Merrick hears Muriel sing, he decides to cast her in the first all-child cast of Dolly! Merman takes the young actress under her wing to learn the ropes of being a star. The musical is loosely based on Cole’s friendship with Merman.
Blackhurst has appeared off-Broadway in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Bingo and Radio Gals. She previously starred as Ethel Merman in her tribute to the Broadway belter, Everything the Traffic Will Allow. Sonenclar's Broadway credits include Wonderland and Les Miserables. McCormick currently stars in Chaplin. His additional Broadway credits include Elf, Curtains, The Pajama Game, Gypsy, Marie Christine, Kiss Me, Kate and more. Gillette earned a Tony nod for Chapter Two. Her many Broadway credits include Brighton Beach Memoirs, They’re Playing Our Song, Jimmy, Cabaret and Don’t Drink the Water.
Click below to see Blackhurst channel Merman in her concert Everything the Traffic Will Allow!