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“Always … Patsy Cline” Is Ted Swindley’s Valentine to the Country-Music Legend and Her Number-One Fan

"Alway ... Patsy Cline" plays July 21-24 at Theatre in the Park

"Always ... Patsy Cline" plays July 21-24 at Theatre in the Park

City Stage of Wilmington, in association with Theatre in the Park of Raleigh, will present Always … Patsy Cline, dramatist and director Ted Swindley’s 1997 Off-Broadway hit about the unusual friendship between 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), on July 21-24 in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre in west Raleigh, NC.

“Seven years ago, someone rented out our space and did this show,” recalls City Stage artistic director Justin Smith. “I produced Always … Patsy Cline three years ago at City Stage ….”

Smith adds, “I love the music in [Always … Patsy Cline]. The music speaks for itself, and the story is compelling. The story makes any director want to direct it….

Always … Patsy Cline is the biography of Patsy Cline (Emily Gardenhire), as told through the eyes of Louise Seger (Barbara Weetman), who was one of her biggest fans and a fan that Patsy made a connection with,” Justin Smith points out. “This is a true-life relationship, and the story is put together through old letters and personal accounts from other people in her life. The story starts from the first time Louise heard Patsy sing, [and continues] through the day Patsy dies in the plane crash.”

Always … Patsy Cline made its Off-Broadway debut, directed by playwright Ted Swindley, on June 24, 1997 at the Variety Arts Theatre, where it played for 191 performances before closing on Dec. 7, 1997. That show starred Margo Martindale as Louise and Tori Lynn Palazola as Patsy.

The creative team for the current joint production of Always … Patsy Cline, produced by Cape Fear Theatre Arts, LLC — d.b.a. City Stage — and Theatre in the Park, includes director Justin Smith, musical director Chiaki Ito, technical director Terry Collins, set designer Scenic Asylum, lighting designer Dallas LaFon, costume designer Susanna Douthit, properties manager Nick White, and sound designer Zack Atkinson.

Justin Smith says, “The set is a suggestive set that covers Louise’s living room, the Grand Ole Opry stage, an old small-town bar, and other various stages around the country.”

He adds, “The lighting suggests the area the characters are in — anywhere from Louise’s house to concert lighting in the Grand Ole Opry — the costumes are as authentic as possible. We used wigs and old photos of Patsy Cline [to enhance the production’s authenticity]….

“I think the only challenge [in staging Always … Patsy Cline] is presenting the story in a dynamic and energetic way using only two characters,” says director Justin Smith. Fortunately, we have two great performers who can pull it off. The challenge is staying true to Patsy Cline while keeping the story interesting and compelling.”

Smith adds, “We tried to stay as true to the music as possible, because after all, this show is about the music. We all studied the original recordings of Patsy Cline’s music and the nuances of Patsy’s voice.

“The actor playing Patsy studied old videos and sound clips of Patsy’s voice to mimic it as close as possible,” Smith reports. “One of the challenges of this show is that we weren’t putting on a show about a fictional character. Patsy Cline was a well-known celebrity, and we wanted to honor her memory by making the music in this production as authentic as possible.”

SECOND OPINION: June 21st Wilmington, NC StarNews review by Bob Workmon: http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20110621/ARTICLES/110629947/1050/entertainment?p=all&tc=pgall.

City Stage, in association with Theatre in the Park, presents ALWAYS … PATSY CLINE at 7:30 p.m. July 21 and 22, 3 and 7:30 p.m. July 23, and 3 p.m. July 24 in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre, 107 Pullen Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.

TICKETS: $20.

BOX OFFICE: 919/831-6058 or http://www.etix.com/.

INFORMATION: 919/831-6936 or info@theatreinthepark.com.

SHOW: http://www.citystagenc.com/Always…Patsy_Cline.html or http://theatreinthepark.com/always_patsy_cline.html.

PRESENTERS:

City Stage: http://www.citystagenc.com/Home.html.

Theatre in the Park: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/.

VENUE/PARKING: http://theatreinthepark.com/directions_and_parking.html.

OTHER LINKS:

The Play: http://www.alwayspatsycline.net/ (official website) and http://www.lortel.org/ (Internet Off-Broadway Database).

The Playwright: http://www.tedswindleyproductions.com/bio.html (Ted Swindley Productions), and http://www.lortel.org/ (Internet Off-Broadway Database).

Patsy Cline: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patsy_Cline (Wikipedia), http://countrymusichalloffame.org/full-list-of-inductees/view/patsy-cline (Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum), http://www.patsyclinemuseum.com/ (Patsy Cline Museum).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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