WPCNR STAGE DOOR Theatrical Review. Always Patsy ClinePublished: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 By: Peter Katz. Source: WPCNR
You don’t have to be a fan of country & western music to thoroughly enjoy the Westchester Broadway Theatre’s 194th production, “Always…Patsy Cline.” Far more than just a compilation of C&W legend Patsy Cline’s greatest hits, it tells the sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious, always engaging true story of how Cline was embraced by a fan and began a long-lasting friendship.
It all began in 1961 when Decca Records sent out Cline all by herself on a public appearance tour. There were no support people to help her while she was on the road, not even a low level assistant to carry her bags. The relationship of fan and rising star began when, at a dive located in Houston, Texas, a lady named Louise Seger jumped in and became Cline’s volunteer manager to negotiate better conditions for the singer, who was being pressured by the club’s owner to perform continuously for more than four hours.
Seger even invited Cline to stay at her home instead of overnighting alone at the hotel where Decca usually booked its touring performers. This was the beginning of a relationship which lasted until Cline was killed in a plane crash in March, 1963. Seger and Cline had stayed in touch through a series of letters, some excerpts of which are used in the show. Seger had been a long-time fan of Cline from when she started recording in the mid-1950′s and appeared on radio and television with Arthur Godfrey.
Patsy Cline is played by Erin McCracken, who displays a level of vocal quality and energy which would bring applause from Patsy Cline herself. She previously appeared at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in “Hairspray,” and has made her mark in New York City appearances ranging from Carnegie Hall to her NYC cabaret debut in the show “Thank God I’m A Country Girl.”
The twenty-seven songs she either belts-out or sweetly embraces include many familiar titles which had the audience clapping, tapping toes, and even discreetly singing along. These included, “Anytime,” “I Fall To Pieces,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “If You’ve Got Leavin’ On Your Mind,” and many more.
Louise Seger is played by Susann Fletcher (above front and center), a Broadway veteran whose credits include, among others, “The Full Monty,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” and “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.” Her comedic timing and physicality keep the show moving at a rapid pace, pausing only long enough for lots of laughter.
The on-stage “Bodacious Bobcat Band” is led by Ken Lundie on piano, and includes drummer Ken Ross, Geoff Marrow on bass, and Guy Fischetti playing steel guitar and fiddle. Their own antics and interaction with the principal players contribute to the evening’s enjoyment. Actress Jeremy Parker is the standby for both the Patsy Cline and Louise Seger characters.
“Always…Patsy Cline” is at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, NY, until the end of the month. The ticket price includes a complete served dinner, as well as free parking. Their web site is: www.broadwaytheatre.com and the box office is (914) 592-2222.