Review: North Carolina Theatre's ALWAYS...PATSY CLINE

By: Jan. 23, 2017
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Always...Patsy Cline tells the true story of Patsy Cline's friendship with Houston housewife Louise Seger. Having first heard Cline on The Arthur Godfrey Show in 1957, Seger became an immediate and avid fan of Cline's and she constantly hounded the local disc jockey to play Cline's records on the radio. In 1961 when Cline went to Houston for a show, Seger and her buddies arrived about an hour-and-a-half early and, by coincidence, met Cline who was traveling alone. The two women struck up a friendship that was to culminate in Cline spending the night at Seger's house, a friendship that lasted until Cline's untimely death in a plane crash in 1963 when she was only 30 years old.

The musical first made its world premiere as a 45 minute cabaret piece at the Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston, Texas in 1988. Several years later, playwright Ted Swindley re-approached his script into a full-length version for a production in South Carolina. Since then, the musical had a very successful run Off-Broadway in 1997 and has continued to be one of the most popular and often produced shows throughout America and has also enjoyed international success in Australia, the UK, and Ireland.

In this production currently playing at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater through January 29th, Sally Struthers narrates the whole show as Louise Seger from beginning to end. Struthers not only proves to be such a comedic highlight, but is also very heartfelt by the end of the show. She also shares some great onstage chemistry with Carter Calvert as Patsy Cline. Calvert presents a very authentic take on the legendary country singer not only in the acting department, but also offers a strong resemblance to Cline's voice. There's even moments where director Guy Stroman successfully recreates performances of Patsy Cline performing at the Grand Ole Opry. The band led by musical director McCrae Hardy also does a great job of capturing the sound of 1950's country music.

On the surface, this may seem more like a play with music, but if you pay enough attention, the songs actually help move the story forward as they should in a musical. Whether you're a fan of Patsy Cline or not, you should definitely give this show a shot. It's not only got some great, memorable tunes, but also a very interesting story being told onstage.

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