BWW Interviews: Greg White Talks FLIPSIDE: THE PATTI PAGE STORY
FLIPSIDE: THE Patti Page STORY is taking to the road. In anticipation of the production's Texas stops, I chatted with writer and director Greg White about the show. He explains, "It's not a revue. It's her story," and that the show itself is "funny and very poignant." He also told me that the show has a little something for everyone. After all, "they call Patti [Page] Country-politan. She was one of the first crossover artists that did country, jazz, and pop. Believe it or not she did some R&B. Patti did everything."
BWW: What initially inspired you to write FLIPSIDE: THE Patti Page STORY?
Greg White: I've been a Patti Page fan my entire life. My dad introduced me to the fantastic world of the music of Patti Page. I've just always been enamored with her, her sound, and her image. I've always been an admirer, a big fan. She's an Okie; she's from Oklahoma, so I think that bonded me even more to her. That made me feel even more of a loyalty to her.
BWW: How did you research FLIPSIDE: THE Patti Page STORY?
Greg White: In 2007, at the Oklahoma Centennial, I met Patti Page. I pitched the project to her and her management at that time and started the ball rolling. I did a series of interviews with her over a span of a couple of years. I also had access to her autobiography, even before it was published. Even the Oklahoma History Center was kind enough to give me every newspaper article that had Patti's name in it since the late 40s. I just had lots of resources and lots of ways to put this story together.
BWW: The musical features 28 of Patti Pages' many hit songs. How did you decide which songs made it into the show?
Greg White: I'll tell you that was one of the hardest parts. The research was tough. The creation was tough. It was tough to figure out how exactly we were going to frame the story and which parts of the life we were going to share. But, I think, that was one of the hardest decisions because she had 111 songs on the Billboard charts. So, I chose the songs that through conversations with Patti [Page] that I felt were songs that really touched her, songs that were really important to her, and because it is a jukebox musical, songs that tell her story. The show is a musical journey telling her story through the songs.
BWW: The jukebox musical premiered at the University of Central Oklahoma in April 2011. What was it like seeing your hard work make it onto the stage?
Greg White: Well, we have a celebrity series here. It's called "Broadway Tonight," so we premiered it on that series. It's affiliated with the University of Central Oklahoma. It was truly magical. I was thrilled because a lot Patti [Page]'s family and her friends from the area and beyond were able to come. It's always incredible to be able to see and hear your work. Patti was and then became just somebody that's very dear to me, very special to me. It was an honor for me to be able to preserve her legacy in this way.
BWW: The musical won 18 awards at the Kennedy Center National Theatre Festival in 2011. What was that experience like?
Greg White: They conduct a national festival. There are thousands of productions that are entered into this specific festival through The Kennedy Center. You actually start out at your venue, then you go to a regional festival. Then, we took it to nationals. You know, again, it was an honor to be at The Kennedy Center. I was thrilled that they were able to recognize the value of the show beyond just the music. It's a theatre festival, so we were mostly there with some really fantastic original plays. At the end of the day, there's a beautiful little, fragile play that's within these 28 songs. I think that was the thing that resonated the most and the approach that The Kennedy Center really recognized-the value beyond the commercial value. They recognized the heart, the poignancy, and the delicacy of this piece.