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Review: ALWAYS...PATSY CLINE at Stages St. Louis, The Ross Family Theater At The Kirkwood Performing Arts Center

Opens Stages St. Louis 35th Anniversary Season

Review: ALWAYS...PATSY CLINE at Stages St. Louis, The Ross Family Theater At The Kirkwood Performing Arts Center

Stages St. Louis christened their new home, The Ross Family Theater at the Kirkwood Performing Arts Center, with an engaging production of Always...Patsy Cline. The two women show features Broadway and American Idol star Diana DeGarmo as Patsy Cline and Zoe Vonder Haar as Louise Seger. Always...Patsy Cline is the real-life story of a Texas housewife and her unlikely friendship with the country music singer. Vonder Haar and DeGarmo have electric chemistry and play off each other perfectly as they tell a heartwarming tale of friendship.

This show belongs to Vonder Haar. Her Louise is charismatic and is a comedic light. She is on stage the entire show and single handedly drives the narrative while DeGarmo provides the soundtrack of Cline's hits. In the beginning of the show she breaks the fourth wall. Her charming banter immediately endears Louise to the audience. Her performance is part Lucille Ball as Lucy, Polly Holliday as Flo, and Penny Marshall as Laverne. It's as if the spirt of these comedic actresses have inhabited Vonder Haar's body. She is a scene stealer with her physical comedy and draws the audience's focus the entire show. Her delivery is perfectly timed to draw big laughs. Louise is everyone's outlandish and hilarious best friend and Vonder Harr is simply marvelous as Louise.

DeGarmo is a sublime Patsy Cline and can sell a song, especially when singing in her upper register. Her voice is pure, and she has incredible stage presence. Her intonations and vocal choices are reminiscent of the late Cline while not exactly a carbon copy. While her sound is lovely, she loses a bit of her power and volume while signing in her lower register. The Cline role is more concert-like delivering the music catalog to support Louise's story versus helping to drive the narrative. DeGarmo is at her best during upbeat numbers when she lets loose and dances with Vonder Haar.

The technical theater highlight was Brad Musgrove's costume design for DeGarmo. His choices in color and style were both elegant and striking. Scenic Designer James Wolk instantly transports the audience to the early 1960s with his set design and decoration including a retro icebox, harvest gold cabinetry, a wooden screen door, tabletop rotary phone and a magical jukebox. Music Director Jeremy Jacobs leads his band to provide exceptional accompaniment to support DeGarmo's vocals. The band also provides some laughs when engaging with Louise.

Stages new facility at the Kirkwood performing art center is a perfect place to see a production. The 529-seat Ross Family Theater has comfortable spacious seats that rise perfectly above the row in front of you so even the smallest theater patrons have an unobstructed view of the stage.

St. Louis audiences would be crazy to miss this production of Always...Patsy Cline playing now through September 5th. For more information visit StagesStLouis.org.



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From This Author - James Lindhorst

Jim Lindhorst has been a theater enthusiast for nearly 5-decades. He was bitten by the theater bug as a young teen while sitting in the last row of the upper balcony to see the first national tour ... (read more about this author)


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