BWW Review: ALWAYS. . .PATSY CLINE at Virginia Rep, Take Two: The Star Returns
A second trip to "Always . . . Patsy Cline" was a pleasure, because Debra Wagoner--the title-role star who was ill when I attended before (and was ably replaced by Shannon Gibson Brown)--has returned.
Wagoner has a big, smooth alto voice that matches Cline's. The crossover singer, who died in 1963 at age 30, achieved hits in country, pop and rock, and she could sure sing a hymn, too.
It's almost a family affair--Wagoner's husband Joe Pabst is the director, and her costar Terri Moore shared the stage with her in this show in 2012. With a gently swinging five-piece band behind her, Wagoner glides energetically through the 27 tunes in Ted Swindley's tribute show. If "Back in Baby's Arms" isn't enough to capture your heart, "You Belong to Me" will surely melt you. And Cline favorites like "I Fall to Pieces" and "Crazy" show Wagoner at her best, channeling Cline by singing way behind the beat.
The show is made even more user-friendly by Moore's hilarious good-ol'-gal portrayal of Louise Seger, an actual Texas housewife who befriended Cline, her idol. Moore's irrepressible humor and ease in the role liven things up considerably. Pabst gets credit for making the production as charming and down-home as can be.
Terrie Powers's set and Skyler Broughman's lighting are attractive, Jeff Lindquist handles the musical direction well, and Derek Dumais's sound design is excellent. Special mention goes to costume designer Marcia Miller Hailey for a series of attractive dresses for Wagoner, showing Cline as a performer and a real-life working mom as well.
"Always. . .Patsy Cline"
Virginia Rep at Hanover Tavern, 13181 Hanover Courthouse Rd., Hanover
Through January 5
Tickets $44 (group rates available)
Info: va-rep.org or (804) 262-2820
Photo credit: Aaron Sutten