Broadway and national and international tour veteran Carter Calvert (It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues) and fellow Broadway veteran Sally Struthers, who won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Comedy-Variety or Music Series in 1972 and 1979 for playing Gloria Bunker Stivic in Norman Lear’s groundbreaking CBS television sitcom All in the Family, will star as Winchester, VA-born Country-Music-Hall-of-Famer Patsy Cline (1932-63) and her number-one fan, Houston, TX housewife and divorcee Louise Seger (1932-2004), in the North Carolina Theatre‘s Jan. 20-22 and 24-29 presentation of Ted Swindley’s 1997 Off-Broadway hit, Always… Patsy Cline, in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, NC.
Swindley was the founding artistic director Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston, TX, where Always… Patsy Cline had its world premiere in 1988. After subsequent performances in Atlanta, GA and at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN, where it played for more than a year, Always… Patsy Cline made its Off-Broadway debut, directed by Swindley and starring Margo Martindale as Louise and Tori Lynn Palazola as Patsy, on June 24, 1997 at the Variety Arts Theatre, where it played for 191 performances before closing on Dec. 7, 1997.
“I directed this great show a few years ago, starring Sally Struthers, at Casa Mañana Theatre in Ft. Worth, TX, [where former NCT President and CEO Wally Jones is president and executive producer]” says NCT guest director Guy Stroman. “I had known about this piece when it was originally presented, and had seen other productions, and I was so moved by this story of one woman’s love of and friendship with Patsy Cline and her incredible music.”
He adds, “The music used in this play is a ‘greatest hits’ performance of Patsy Cline’s incredible career. Her songs are brought to life as her unlikely friendship with Louise Seger is shared with the audience. This intimate, funny, human and poignant story, backed by 27 of Patsy’s songs, performed almost like a concert brought to life, make this directing job one of joy, laughter, and song. Who could resist that!?! Add working with Sally Struthers, Carter Calvert, and the great team at the North Carolina Theatre, and it is an ideal show to direct.”
Stroman says, “[Always… Patsy Cline] is based on the true story of Louise Seger (Sally Struthers), a divorcee and mother living in the Houston area in 1957. Louise shares with us, the audience, her memories of hearing Patsy Cline (Carter Calvert) on the radio for the first time, and on television on the Arthur Godfrey Show, and of their chance meeting and budding friendship when she finally sees Patsy for the first time performing in Houston. Louise and Patsy’s friendship continues throughout her incredible successes as one of the first ‘crossover’ musical artists.
“Patsy’s music, and Patsy the woman, enrich Louise’s life up until the time of Patsy’s untimely death in 1963, at age 30, in a plane crash, coming home from performing at a benefit concert,” says Guy Stroman. “It is through Louise that the audience identifies with the experience of having your idols, your dreams, become real and human. We, the audience, are taken down [Memory Lane with Louise], through all of Patsy’s lasting music and life.”
Stroman says, “The show is a mix of intimate, funny, and personal conversations that Louise has with the audience, and an almost concert presentation by Patsy and her seven-member band and backup singers, who were The Jordanaires. Blending those two realities become the task for the design team, the musical director, and musicians, the actors, and myself. I have the best of all of those elements at the North Carolina Theatre, so I’m excited to combine all of those!”
In addition to director Guy Stroman, the North Carolina Theatre creative team for Always… Patsy Cline includes: producer Carolee Baxter; NCT artistic director Casey Hushion; musical director McCrae Hardy; technical director Bill Yates, Jr.; set designer Chris Bernier; lighting designer Samuel Rushen; properties manager Aline Johnson; sound designers Eric Alexander Collins and Brian L. Hunt; and stage manager William Alan Coats.
“The set is centered by a performance stage that functions as several venues where Patsy performed her hits: The Grand Ole Opry, The Arthur Godfrey Show, The Esquire Ballroom, a Houston radio station, etc.,” says Stroman. “It will be flanked by two settings: Louise’s kitchen, where we first meet her and where she spins her stories of her friendship and love for Patsy and her music, and the venue where she first heard Patsy live and struck up their friendship.”
He adds, “The lighting reflects both the intimate conversations Louise has with the audience, and the fun, exciting energy of a live concert. We are going to light up the Fletcher, which is the perfect venue for this personal, funny, and high octane musical….
“Louise’s costumes reflect her warm, funny, and larger-than-life personality,” says Stroman. “Patsy was always dressed in performance in very elegant dresses and suits, not just in cowgirl outfits, which was typical for female country artists of the day. Her style crossed over, like her music did; and her costumes are those beautifully styled and tailored outfits of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.”
Guy Stroman invites Triangle theatergoers to “Come [to Raleigh’s A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater on Jan. 20-22 and 24-29] for the great songs and singing, the laughter, and the pure joy this show and these wonderful actresses bring to Always… Patsy Cline.”
SECOND OPINION: Jan. 19th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh BWW TV preview by Jeffrey Kare: http://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-TV-North-Carolina-Theatres-ALWAYSPATSY-CLINE-20170119; and Dec. 31st Raleigh, NC News & Observer mini-preview by Mary Cornatzer: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article123511139.html.
The North Carolina Theatre presents ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE, starring Sally Struthers and Carter Calvert, at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 and 22, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24-27, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 and 29 in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/803430.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gFt5WvVTe8.
2016-17 NCT SEASON: http://nctheatre.com/show-season/201516-season.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21st, performance.
Patsy Cline (country-and-western singer, 1932-63): http://countrymusichalloffame.org/full-list-of-inductees/view/patsy-cline (Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum), http://www.patsyclinemuseum.com/ (Patsy Cline Museum), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patsy_Cline (Wikipedia).
Always… Patsy Cline (1988 Houston and 1997 Off-Broadway play with music): http://www.alwayspatsycline.net/ (official website), http://www.tedswindleyproductions.com/album/always-patsy-cline/ (Ted Swindley Productions page), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/Production/4518 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patsy_Cline#Plays_and_musicals (Wikipedia).
The Script: https://www.scribd.com/doc/223412206/Always-Patsy-Cline-Script (Scribd.).
Study Guide: https://www.bard.org/study-guides/always-patsy-cline-study-guide (Utah Shakespeare Festival).
Ted Swindley (playwright): http://www.tedswindleyproductions.com/bio.html (Ted Swindley Productions), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/34699 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/tedswindleyproductions/ (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/ted_swindley (Twitter page), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stages_Repertory_Theatre#History (Wikipedia).
Guy Stroman (Terrell, TX-born New York director): http://guystroman.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/guy-stroman-92974 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0834890/ (Internet Movie Database).
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing email@example.com and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)