“D’Amico Shines…and can she dance!” — Splash Magazine
Perhaps the most influential female vocalist in the past 70 years, Patsy Cline was the first female crossover artist who blended country and western music with popular music – adding a dash of gospel, blues, honky tonk, and swing. Patsy Cline first became a national sensation on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout show in 1957. Her career sadly cut short by a fatal plane crash in 1963, she left behind a memorable legacy for those who followed. One wonders what other first’s Patsy Cline might have offered if she had lived past 30.
ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE celebrates Patsy’s music with a banquet of song presented with gusto and feeling by Cori Cable Kidder, whose rich voice and nuanced phrasing almost fool the audience into believing in reincarnation. The show is chock-a-block with just about every famous song that Patsy ever sang, including “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Walking After Midnight,” “Crazy,” and “I Fall to Pieces” to name just a few of the 27 hits in the piece. None of this would be the same without the excellent on-stage five-piece band – with musical director Sean Paxton at the piano – to carry the melodies to the rafters.
But there is more to this play than just a celebration of song. Interwoven into the music is the true story of Patsy’s friendship with Louise Seger, her biggest fan as only a Texan can be. The two women click as soon as they meet in 1961, share their most intimate secrets, and continue to write letters to each other even when they’re geographically distant. Patsy signs each letter with ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE, giving rise to the title of the show.
Nikki D’Amico shines as Louise, an irrepressible woman who is Carole Burnette and Lucille Ball all rolled into one. And can she dance! The audience is invited to share in the fun by clapping, singing, and even dancing in the aisles. It’s an audience free-for-all that lets everyone share in the exuberance of Patsy’s music and the verve of Louise’s dance.
Director Robert Marra hits just the right note in bringing this moment in Patsy Cline’s life to the stage, ably assisted by playwright Ted Swindley’s script. Enhancing the production, the staff does a great job in replicating the early 60’s including set (John Vertrees), costume (A. Jeffrey Schoenberg), lighting (Anna Cecilia Martin), and sound (Cricket S. Myers). The audience should be aware that this is first and foremost a musical with a bit of story – more like a Las Vegas production than an intimate biography of Cline. With that in mind, get ready to join in the fun.
By Elaine L. Mura