BWW Interview: Sally Struthers and Carter Calvert in ALWAYS, PATSY CLINE
Sally Struthers, the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress, best known for her roles in "All in the Family" and "Gilmore Girls, "hosted a benefit concert for Asbury Park Theater Company (APTCO) on Aug. 2 that also featured Patsy Co-Star Carter Calvert. Sally Struthers' Broadway career includes "Wally's Café" with Rita Moreno, and Jimmy Coco and Neil Simon's female version of "The Odd Couple" with Brenda Vaccaro. She also starred on Broadway and on tour in Tommy Tune's production of "Grease" and played Miss Hannigan in the 20th anniversary national tour of ANNIE.
Carter Calvert is a Tony-nominated Broadway musical It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues alongside Grammy winning jazz vocalist Gregory Porter. She is featured on the cast recording and starred in the show's national tour. Other tours include the title role in "Always Patsy Cline" opposite Sally Struthers, the featured role of 'Grizabella' in the Broadway national touring company of Cats. the European tour of Smokey Joe's Café, and an international tour of Neil Berg's 100 Years of Broadway. Best described by the press! [Carter Calvert] could sizzle in a blizzard...she combines a formidable comic talent with a deliciously torchy voice. Real class! - The Plain Dealer
Over the past 22 years, Sally Struthers has performed in the musical two-hander Always...Patsy Cline "probably fifteen times creating her own relationship with the charming character she has been molding for over a decade. Let's go back to the time when "Sally met Patsy" (you knew I had to go there) Cline in Always, Patsy Cline. Playing in a two-city production of a musical called Only a Kingdom, about the love story of King Edward VIII of England, a gal named Rachel Ricca, started singing "Crazy" or "I Fall to Pieces" after the show in a late night club and she sounded just like Patsy Cline. Stage manager Jeff Kiltie said, "Sally, you'd be perfect for Louise!" They tagged it onto the end of their season and called us and asked us if we would come do it, and we did.
Louise and her boyfriend meet Patsy, and Patsy needs a ride back to her hotel. Louise says to her, "You're never gonna get a taxi outta here this time a night, so we'll take ya. But first you're comin' to my house for some bacon and eggs." Then Patsy does go to her house for bacon and eggs at one o'clock in the morning.
PB: (Sally and Carter), there have been several mounting of this endearing show. Please tell us about how Sally met Carter (sorry, there I go again) and your mutual love of this show?
Sally: We met at the Algonquin Playhouse in Manasquan NJ about 8 years ago and after 10 minutes into rehearsal I said "You're IT for me for the rest of my life! She's 50% exceptional as a singer and the other 50% is that she's one of the most hilarious women I've ever met! What I'd like people to take away from our show is a night of laughter and fond memories and re-educating of how many hit songs Patsy Cline had and how they touched the hearts of so many people.
Carter: It's been wonderful! It's a wild ride once we get on! It's joyful and real. I fall in love with her every night and she with me. It's an honor.
PB: Sally you were quoted as saying that playing the role of Louise "allows me to feel like I'm almost in a one-woman show because I do all the talking and then Patsy does all the singing." Sally, what keeps you coming back to this?
Sally: When I first looked at this script I thought, Sally, Patsy's life was sad, had a very difficult husband, traveling while having young children, trouble with her recording company. This could be a very sad, downer show so I said to myself you've got to take the phone book and make this funny. I pulled every ounce of funny in her character. I'm a very physical actress/comedian. I not only do Louise Texas dialect, but I do Louise imitating her mother, the DJ, the woman at the radio station.
PB: Carter, what does it mean to you playing the iconic Patsy Cline?
Carter: It is the biggest honor that I ever had, being a fan of Patsy Cline since I was 7 yrs. old. To represent this amazing woman who was a pioneer for Women's Rights, stood up for what she believed in, had to balance family life with being a mom and being the primary bread winner, it's the biggest thrill in doing the very best I can do with this honor. When people come up after the show, they have tears in their eyes because Sally and I have recreated memories that were lost in their hearts. These songs really travel through the history of people who have lived, grew up with, dated, married and lost loved ones with this music. It really conjures up feelings they didn't know they had. What I hear constantly is "I didn't realize Patsy Cline sang all this music! My mom played it while fixing dinner, my dad loved this music, and my grandmother loved it". I take what I do really seriously and want people to have a great time.
PB: Sally, in today's world of mega- stars is it possible to have a connection/friendship with fans and stars? Please relate the story about the couple who came back to see you after one of your shows where you invited the husband to join you onstage.
Sally: While doing the show in Laguna Beach CA. I met a tall, handsome gentleman to dance with me on stage. In the show, Louise invites Patsy to come back to her house for bacon and eggs. So Tom Murphy and his wife Joyce came back after the show and said "we'd like to take you home for bacon and eggs" and we went and we've remained dear friends for over 20 yrs.
PB: Carter, tell us more about your career, concerting often with your husband/drummer Roger?
Carter: Roger is great! He's playing the drums in the show! Sally's in love with Roger and tells everyone he's her boyfriend. LOL! I feel very grateful to have been working in several Broadway concerts that have taken us all over the world as well as luxury cruises including Africa, Tahiti, England, France and many more. I also enjoy doing a lot of my own solo shows: a Patsy Cline solo show; a Carol King solo show, a Diva show.
PB: Sally, you never got to meet the now famous Louise Seger who passed away in 2004. What are your thoughts about her?
Sally: I did not want to meet her and I'll tell you why. I love that she was brave enough to introduce herself to Patsy and invite her to come to her house late in the night for bacon and eggs. That took bravery and got the ball rolling in their relationship. Why I didn't want to meet her is that I had already set my stage character and it would probably be absolutely nothing like the real Louise, plus I would be meeting a quite older Louise and I didn't want to feel badly that I was not doing some sort of impression of her. So I had the freedom to play her in my mind's eye.
Thank you both for a heart-warming interview, ladies!