Music by Ron Abel
Lyrics by Chuck Steffan
Book by Lissa Levin
Directed & Choreographed by Joshua Bergassw
Music Direction by Roberta Duchak
At Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook
Tour de force performance by Klea Blackhurst makes Hazel a household name
This World Premiere musical, Hazel, is based on the Saturday Evening Post cartoon by Ted Kay and the 1960’s TV comedy series staring Shirley Booth. In this promising world premiere, the fabulous winning performance by Klea Blackhurst opens the audience to the commanding charm and honesty of Hazel, the maid who solves every problem in the household she inhabits. Channeling Figaro and Jeeves, Hazel is a force of nature that we quickly enjoy.
As a musical, Hazel tries for a look and feel of Bye, Bye Birdie and those 1950-60’s Broadway musicals but with a bland score by Ron Abel and simple choreography by Joshua Bergasse (who also directs), Hazel is a show in need of cuts and rethinking. Amazingly, the over developed sub-plots involving the military and UFO sightings and a tad too much about the four children draws away from the stage time for Hazel. Also the plot to have Bonkers Johnson (the terrific Ed Kross) fall romantically for Hazel just doesn’t work. Add the not likable father George Baxter (Ken Clark) and the underdeveloped mother Dorothy (Summer Naomi Smart) need to be re-examined. There are some pointless showstoppers that seem to exist because the show’s a musical rather than come out of the show’s need to ‘sing.’
Ultimately, Hazel is Klea Blackhurst’s show with cute interaction with young Harold Baxter, played by the super-polished eleven-year old Casey Lyons. He nailed with fabulous vocal chops his haunting song “Space.” That singing performance is the finest child-sung number I can ever remember!
Once the creatives strip all the Air Force UFO items and make George Baxter a tad more pleasing and re-think the romance of Hazel, this show will work better. We sure need and want more interaction and stage time with Hazel. Her speaking directly to the audience work effectively. I’d get her more involved with the kids and I’d develop the mother in the work place verses a stay-at-home mother theme more.
But as it now plays, Hazel is a cute, funny cartoon come to life. It is a light-weight Broadway musical that is entertains. Klea Blackhurst alone make the seeing the show worthwhile. The kids are a treat and quite funny. Ed Kross adds a wacky fun character. Hazel is family entertainment filled with 60’s nostalgia. You don’t have to remember Shirley Booth from the TV show because you’ll remember Klea Blackhurst as Hazel in the musical.
Date Reviewed: April 6. 2016
For more info checkout the Hazel page at theatreinchicago.com
At Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, IL, call 630-530-0111, www.drurylanetheatre.com, tickets $45-$60, Wednesdays at 1:30 pm, Thursdays at 1:30 & 8 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 5 & 8:30pm, Sundays at 2 & 6pm, running time is 2hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through May 29, 2016