From the start, it was obvious that the audience would fall to pieces for Always… Patsy Cline, the sweet two-act musical staged by Virginia Rep at Willow Lawn.
When we saw it at Hanover Theater, half of the men in attendance had donned their best cowboy hats for the occasion, and all but about ten of the people in the comfortably small theatre seemed old enough to have seen Patsy in concert during her hay-day. Prepared to suffer through what I thought would be an hour-and-a-half of twang and trills, I was very pleasantly caught off-guard when a tight six-member band livened up the theatre and began engaging the entire audience.
While only two characters graced the stage during the show, the pair successfully and authentically retold the heart-warming story of Patsy and her adoring fan, while adding panache and inducing laughs for the entire show. More of a combination concert and nightclub act than a traditional musical, the intimate setting of Willow Lawn is surely what the original writers had in mind for this charmer.
I’ll get it on the record that while my mother is a fan of Patsy CIine, I am not. In fact, I’m not a fan of country music in general, but Deborah Wagoner’s vocal performance, sheer talent, and stage presence did amaze me. As Patsy was the crossover artist of her day (think Faith Hill or Lady Antebellum), and only 31 when she died in a plane crash, it was heartrending to think that this talent was snuffed out so soon.
Terri Moore, as Patsy’s biggest fan, Louise Seger, was a delight to watch and a perfect comedic touch. They made it all look genuinely fun! And believe me, whether you’re 15 or fifty, it would be very fun to check out Always…Patsy Cline from Virginia Rep.
Always…Patsy Cline runs August 10 through September 16 at Willow Lawn.
Full Price: $38; Subscriber single tickets: $30
Groups: $28 – $32 depending on group size
Rush Tickets: $20; U-Tix for university and high school students: $10
Reviewed by Samantha Schwartzkopf