By Lynn Geyer
Patsy Cline died in a plane crash in March of 1963 near Camden, Tennessee. Emilie Rommel Shimkus brings her back to life in May of 2011 at Tacoma Little Theatre.
“Always… Patsy Cline,” by Ted Swindley, the current production at TLT, is a love story – not in the usual sense of that phrase – but between a consummate entertainer, her biggest fan and her audiences.
Like so many before her, Patsy Cline started in the country music business doing one-night stands until she finally got a spot on The Arthur Godfrey Show. That long-running radio talent program linked up Patsy with Louise Seger, the woman who was to become her greatest fan and a distant, but close friend.
“Always…” is their story. A two-woman (plus band) show narrated by Seger, the play takes the audience through Cline’s career from beginning to her too-young end at age 30 – there are almost that number of Cline favorites in the musical play.
Country music fan or not, you’ll readily join in with the hand clapping and floor stomping during this production so ably directed by Micheal O’Hara.
O’Hara also designed the set which divides the stage into no fewer than four basic parts: Seger’s kitchen, any stage in Cline’s career and the tavern where the two friends first met.
The full up-stage area houses “The Bodacious Bobcats Band,” conducted by Terry O’Hara on keyboard; Bill Golterman on guitar; Michael Martinez, bass; Caitlin Upshall, fiddle; and Peter Tietjen on drums.
Arrayed in costumes designed by Michele Graves, Shimkus is Cline incarnate. She resembles the Country star and sounds much like her as the alto unleashes with alacrity one song on top of another during the almost two hour show. Her stamina is unparalleled during her tour de force performance.
Sharry O’Hare is Seger. This is a showcase for O’Hare’s comedic talent. The wild red-haired singer is at her best dripping with southwestern accent while breaking the fourth wall casting audience-asides as she relates the story of Cline’s career and their friendship.
“Always… Patsy Cline” continues at Tacoma Little Theatre at 210 North I Street through May 29 at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays with 2 p.m. matinees Sundays. There is a Pay-What-You-Can performance Thursday May 5 at 7:30 p.m. and an actor’s benefit matinee Saturday, May 28, at 2 p.m.
For more information or to make reservations call the theatre at (253) 272-2281 or go online to www.tacomalittletheatre.com.
TLT has undergone some changes recently. If this production is any criteria, the theatre is definitely on the right track.
Don’t miss this show. You’ll fall in love again – or for the first time – with Patsy Cline… Always.