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Review: FLIPSIDE: THE PATTI PAGE STORY at UCO Broadway Tonight

Greg White has created something truly special with Flipside:

Review: FLIPSIDE: THE PATTI PAGE STORY at UCO Broadway Tonight

Greg White has created something truly special with Flipside: The Patti Page Story. This production offers an enjoyable and engaging experience whether you have a deep love of Patti Page and her astounding body of work or are just familiar with "(How Much is That) Doggie in the Window". Flipside follows Clara Ann Fowler as she recounts her life and career as the iconic Patti Page. Written from interviews with Miss Page, Flipside presents a series of vignettes paired with musical selections from her versatile catalog and tells a story of the power of finding and using your voice. The production originally premiered in 2012 and went on to win 18 awards at the Kennedy Center National Theatre Festival in Washington D.C., including best musical. Since then, Flipside has enjoyed an off-Broadway run and toured across the US. The most recent production in Oklahoma City celebrates the 10th anniversary and incorporates some excellent local talent.

Review: FLIPSIDE: THE PATTI PAGE STORY at UCO Broadway Tonight The 6-person cast does an admirable job of maintaining a comfortable pace in this 95-minute exploration of love, talent, and music. Many actors play multiple roles and transition seamlessly between a wide variety of characters. Erin Heatley and Kassie Carroll often join each other on stage as Patti's sisters or backup singers and add a great level of vocal depth to each performance. Carroll has also refreshed much of the original choreography for the 10th-anniversary production resulting in performances that are fun, lively, and continuously period-appropriate.

Review: FLIPSIDE: THE PATTI PAGE STORY at UCO Broadway Tonight
Leah Coleman-Arnold, Emily Pace, and Justin Larman

The other half of the ensemble is held by Mark Johnson and Justin Larman. Johnson effectively lends a great deal of heart to the production as Clara Ann Fowler's father. Flipside emphasizes the importance of family and leans heavily on the role that Fowler's father played in encouraging her in her career as a performer and recording artist. Johnson's warmth and specificity in simple moments draw the audience in and lays the foundation for several of the show's final endearing moments. Larman is uniquely versatile as Patti's manager, Jack Rael, and many other small roles. The character of Rael personifies many of the obstacles that Miss Page persevered through and Larman does a great job of balancing brief moments of helping with many more moments of actively attempting to squash or influence Patti's voice and opinion.

Review: FLIPSIDE: THE PATTI PAGE STORY at UCO Broadway Tonight
Emily Pace (Patti Page) and Leah Coleman (Clara Ann Fowler)

The entire production is grounded by a stellar performance by Leah Coleman-Arnold as Clara Ann Fowler. Coleman's delicate pacing and intricate vocal work allow her to tell the story of Fowler/Page in a way that is always interesting and engaging. She stands in contrast to the flashier side of show business but never lacks in vocal maturity or performative excellence.

Finally, Emily Pace is electric as a young Patti Page. Pace helps to push the story along by singing through the hits of Patti Page's extensive catalog. Vocally, Pace never misses a beat and makes challenging melodies sound effortless. Her poise and presence are commanding while balancing Page's delicate demeanor and powerful stage work. She pairs excellently with Coleman-Arnold and Flipside is at its best when the two are on stage, singing together.

Aside from Pace's excellent performance, the tone shifts each time she enters the space because of Corey Martin's brilliant costume design with alterations for the 10th Anniversary Production by LeeAnne Metzger. The costumes are a character in and of themselves. Pace changes for every major number and the audience feels as if they are seeing actual pieces of fashion history that never fail to astound.

It can't be overstated how phenomenal the music is in Flipside. Zac Lee's arrangements stay true to the original recordings while also providing breadth and dimension to every number. The 8-person band is on stage for the entire performance and play with a high level of technical excellence and soulful flare. Matt Avra's scenic design is understated and is an excellent fit for the intimate space at Saint Luke's United Methodist Church. The 10th Anniversary Lighting is designed by Sam Scobey, Justin Larman, and Kimberly Weast and continually makes the space seem bigger than it is and helps to create a fun and energetic canvas for each musical number.

It's clear from Greg White's direction that this project holds a special place in his heart. Where a lesser director may have simplified some narrative moments and focused solely on the music, White has directed each scene to have weight, importance, and clarity knitting the story and the music together to create something that feels cohesive and truly original.

I, like many native Oklahomans, unfortunately, knew very little about the life and legacy of Patti Page before seeing this production. Flipside is one of the most enjoyable pieces of historical musical theatre that I've seen, and I can't imagine a more fun way to explore the music and biography of one of Oklahoma's most notable, groundbreaking talents.


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From This Author - Isaiah Werner

Isaiah Werner is a writer, actor, musician, and spoken word artist from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His 2015 play Scissortail has been produced multiple times in Chicago and Oklahoma City and was nominated... (read more about this author)


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