BWW Review: Good, Plain Fun & A Remarkable Friendship Fill the Cabaret at the Milwaukee Rep's ALWAYS...PATSY CLINE

BWW Review: Good, Plain Fun & A Remarkable Friendship Fill the Cabaret at the Milwaukee Rep's ALWAYS...PATSY CLINE

Welcome to a 1950s kitchen. A collection of retro Salt and Pepper shakers lines the windowsill, colorful dishes air dry in a rack beside the sink, and a vintage radio lies in wait. In the corner of the Milwaukee Rep's Stackner Cabaret sits an upright piano, a set of drums, a chair for a bass guitarist, and a mid-century microphone for Ms. Patsy Cline. Now, how does Patsy get from that mic at the Grand Ole Opry to a fan's humble kitchen? Ted Swindley's Always... Patsy Cline tells that story - and it's based on a true one.

It's the story of two women - a Star and a Fan. The star of course is Patsy Cline (the brilliant Kelly Faulkner), the country music pioneer whose voice stole America's hearts in the late 1950s and early 1960s. She gave us timeless tracks like "Walkin' After Midnight," "I Fall to Pieces," and "Crazy."

The fan who falls for Patsy in Always... is Houston housewife Louise Seger (ball-of-fire Tami Workentin). She's the storyteller, taking us from the moment she first heard Patsy on TV to the time she saw her live at the local honky tonk to the night Ms. Cline spent at her house, cracking up in the kitchen until all hours and planting the seeds of a true friendship.

As Patsy, Faulkner is a natural. She's played the role once before at the Rep - back in 2012 to rave reviews and sold-out performances. Six years later, Faulkner steps into the star's shoes with easy-breezy grace - cool as a cucumber and effortless vocals to boot. There's warmth and the occasional country cry in her voice. Out of the spotlight, Patsy's spunky, delightful spirit shines through Faulkner. It's no wonder she and Louise Seger developed a genuine bond.

Workentin is indeed the fangirl in all of us as Louise. In her, we see the moment a voice first stops you dead in your tracks, transports you, and makes you feel alive. An unstoppable, hilarious force, commanding the cabaret stage in her bodacious high-rise jeans and cowboy boots, Workentin is pretty much the quintessential mom you'd find at a favorite concert, groovin' like nobody's watching.

Unbridled enthusiasm - that's what this show's got. Even if Ms. Cline isn't your personal hero, the entire Patsy package is still guaranteed to leave you grinning. A tender ending gives Always... Patsy Cline just the right pinch of poignancy that enriches the production and takes it from good plain fun to something unforgettable. It's just like Louise Seger says: "That country gal, she's a winner."

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From This Author Kelsey Lawler

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