Though younger generations may not be as familiar with the music of country and western legend Patsy Cline, her legacy still shines brightly in the number of stars who were heavily influenced by her smash recordings and unforgettable vocal style. Artists who have specifically cited Cline’s influence on their own music include such megastars as Dottie West, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Linda Ronstadt, Trisha Yearwood, and LeAnn Rimes. Even newer, younger artists such as Sara Evans, Kacey Musgraves, Brandi Carlile, and Margo Price have noted how Cline’s work helped to shape their own. Fans of Cline’s career will undoubtedly recall that her life was cut short by a tragic plane crash when she was just 30 years old. Her entire collection of recordings spans only an eight-year period, but in that short time, she became one of the country’s most beloved stars.
Cline was restless in her personal life, marrying twice, and known for being hard-charging and passionate in her relationships. In contrast, “Always… Patsy Cline” tells the story of a unique, different sort of friendship Cline developed with a fan named Louise Seger. They met after Cline performed one night in Houston, and they remained in contact through letters over the course of several years before Cline’s death. The script of the play mines the real letters for stories and memories shared between the two friends, and the musical selections include 28 of Cline’s most popular songs.
Director Linda Thrasher was on stage in Town & Gown’s first production of the show in 2008. When asked what inspired her to revisit the story, she said, “I grew up listening to and loving country music, including the old and great artists such as Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, and Patsy Cline. Sixteen years ago, I was cast in the role of Louise and experienced weeks of total immersion into Patsy's music while playing her fun-loving friend. Now, I have the privilege of bringing the show back to Town & Gown, this time with the amazing voice of Renae Perry as Patsy. What makes this experience so incredible is that my daughter Valerie is playing the role of Louise, as I did 16 years ago. I am looking forward to bringing this wonderful country music experience back to our community.”
Town & Gown patrons will be very familiar with cast members Valerie Thrasher and Renae Perry, both of whom have starred in numerous productions on its stage. Thrasher has practically grown up at Town & Gown, having performed in her first plays as a child alongside her mother and remained active in the theater ever since. Perry has been a constant on the Town & Gown stage and behind the scenes as well, contributing to over two dozen shows since her debut in 2012.
On performing as the legendary singer, Perry notes that “Rehearsing for the role of Patsy Cline has been a unique and rewarding challenge over the last few months. Her voice is extremely specific and difficult to replicate. It would be impossible for me (or anyone) to get a spot-on impersonation, but I've made it my goal to try to encapsulate Patsy's energy, style, and tone to the best of my ability. One sobering aspect is the fact that I'm the same age as Patsy when she died. I've thought about that fact a lot during the process. I'm very grateful to our crew and band for their patience as we work together to honor the memory of this country music legend with our production.”
Perry also serves as musical director for the production and goes on to state that “Audiences will thoroughly enjoy hearing Patsy's familiar tunes punctuated by Valerie Thrasher's hilarious yet poignant storytelling as Louise Seger. Our cast, band, and crew have worked tirelessly to make this show as entertaining and nostalgic as possible, and we can't wait to share the fruits of that labor with our patrons.”
Always… Patsy Cline will run from February 8 – 11 and 15 – 18. Thursday through Saturday evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday shows start at 2:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale Monday, February 5 at 11:00 a.m. and can be purchased by visiting the theatre’s Web site at www.townandgown.org or by calling the box office at (405) 372-9122. Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $16 for students, and $16 for seniors (over age 65). Interested patrons may also inquire about Town & Gown’s “mini” season ticket packages, which include “Always… Patsy Cline” as well as the last two shows of the season, available at a discounted rate. Watch for more updates, including behind-the-scenes photos and commentary, on the theater’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/townandgowntheatre.
For more information on this show and other fantastic events happening around the Stillwater community, check out our marketing partner, Visit Stillwater, at https://www.visitstillwater.org/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VisitStillwater.