Monday, October 17, 2016

"Always... Patsy Cline" at Lyric Arts

The plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper is known as "the day the music died." But what about the plane crash a few years later that killed Patsy Cline? On that day the world lost one of the best voices it's ever known. Always... Patsy Cline gives us a peek into the human side of the music icon as we get to know her through her fan, friend, and pen pal Louise. The new production at Lyric Arts in Anoka is perfectly cast, full of heart, and highly entertaining for anyone whose ever heard Patsy's music, and let's face it - who hasn't?

Before fans were able to connect with their favorite musicians through social media, their only chance was to go see them perform and hope to get a glimpse before or after the show. In Houston in 1961, a woman named Louise had just such a lucky encounter with her favorite singer, Patsy Cline. Louise tells us her story, speaking directly to the audience. She met Patsy before a concert and they became fast friends, staying up all night talking, and writing letters back and forth until her death two years later. The show doesn't dwell on the tragedy of her death, but rather the joy she brought to her fans, and one fan in particular.

All of your favorite Patsy Cline songs are included in the show, including "Crazy," "She's Got You," "I'll Fall to Pieces," and "Walkin' After Midnight," to name but a few. Gracie Anderson has a voice that's perfectly suited to these songs, and sounds effortlessly gorgeous. It's such a treat to hear these beloved songs brought to life with a voice that sounds familiar and comforting. As Louise, Betti Battocletti is warm, funny, and engaging, often ad libbing with the audience and encouraging our response.

get some popcorn and enjoy the show
(@cherryandspoon Instagram)
I love an onstage band, especially when they're part of the show and get to add little bits and quips here and there. Music director and pianist Silas Sellnow is quite the character, and the band sounds great on these honky tonk, swing, and pop country song. They're seated on a bandstand on the left of the stage, with a tiny round stage and old fashioned mic for Patsy, while on the right of the stage is Louise's kitchen, complete with vintage appliances. Patsy is dressed in an array of sharp early '60s dresses and suits that show her as more of a glamorous singer than a cowgirl (scenic design by Brian Proball and costume design by Samantha Kuhn Staneart).

At its heart this is a story of friendship between two women. Two women who had seemingly very different lives, one a star singer traveling all over the country, the other a single mother living in Texas, but who connected on a human level when fate put them in each others' paths. It's really a wonderful way to share not just the music of Patsy Cline, but the warm, friendly, down to earth person that she was. Always... Patsy Cline continues for just two more weekends, and judging by the large and enthusiastic crowd this past Sunday, tickets may be hard to come by, so make your plans soon!