Troupe goes country western
‘Always … Patsy Cline’ opens Friday
By Scott Bellile
New London’s Wolf River Theatrical Troupe, well known for its comedies and mysteries, is taking a departure from form for its next production: a country musical.
Director Margie Brown said WRTT has staged musicals before, but it has been a while and it was time to try another. Thus, “Always … Patsy Cline” premieres this week.
The biographical musical runs Friday, July 21, through Sunday, July 23, and Thursday, July 27, through Saturday, July 29.
Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Real Opportunities center, 304 St. John’s Place, New London. Tickets cost $15. Call 920-982-6060 to order.
The two-woman cast is comprised of Molly Stillwell as Patsy Cline, the late 1950s/early 1960s Nashville icon, and Debbie Martin as her friend and avid fan Louise Seger.
Ted Swindley’s 1990 musical “Always … Patsy Cline” is based on a true story told through Seger’s pen-pal friendship with Cline.
The women meet in 1961 when Seger is a divorced housewife with two kids living in Houston, Texas. Seger attends Cline’s show at the Esquire Ballroom and is blown away by her performance.
When Cline has no ride to her hotel after the show, Seger invites her home for bacon and eggs. The two women stay up all night talking and a friendship forms.
After Cline continues on her way, geography fails to break the two apart. Their rich friendship grows through phone calls and letters.
With 27 songs backed by a live band, “Always … Patsy Cline” can technically be described as a musical. However, attendees will not see elaborately choreographed Broadway-esque show tunes wedged between extended scenes of dialogue.
Rather, “Always … Patsy Cline” is more like attending a live concert. Just small nuggets of detail about the women’s friendship are revealed between numbers.
Providing the toe-tapping country western grooves are the five-member show band: Patty Godell (piano), Barb Bricco (guitar), Tiffany Schulz (bass guitar), Bruce Lee (drums) and Taylor Price (vocals).
Anyone familiar with Cline’s life knows it ends tragically aboard an airplane in 1963. Martin says the troupe hopes to bring a tear or two to every audience member’s eye.
At the same time, she and Stillwell aspire to entertain audiences with “good Texan humor” and recognizable numbers including “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces” and “Stupid Cupid.”
“You will know a whole bunch about Patsy’s life” after leaving the show,” Martin said.