By Mary Boyle
Patsy Cline is widely considered a pioneer in Country Music. In the late 1950's and early 1960's, Cline made a name for herself in Nashville, but her blend of country, swing, do-wop, and rock & roll helped her cross over to pop music, with hits such as "Walkin' After Midnight" and "Crazy" — songs that nearly anyone would recognize, country music fan or not. Tragically, Cline died in a plan crash in 1963 at the early age of 30, but her popularity hasn't faded. In 1973, she was the first female solo artist to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and millions of her records have been sold since her death. Fans of Cline, and any music afficianado, will appreciate the opportunity to hear not only Cline's music, but a fun and fascinating story about the iconic singer at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre's production of Always...Patsy Cline, now through May 20th at The Rep's Stackner Cabaret.
Created by Ted Swindley, and directed by Laura Braza, this musical tribute to the legendary singer is based on a true story about a friendship between Cline (Kelly Faulkner) and a fan, Louise Seger (Tami Workentin), that developed after they met at a Honky Tonk in Dallas where Cline was performing in 1961. Louise, a sassy, big-haired Texas girl, is the narrator of the tale, and tells the audience how she fell in love with Cline's music the moment she heard her on the Arthur Godfrey Show in 1957. When Cline comes to her neck of the woods for a concert, Louise arrives early for the show and is shocked to find her idol all alone and killing time by the juke box — and even more shocked when she agrees to join her at her table.
Milwaukee favorite, Kelly Faulkner, who opened The Rep's season as Adelaide in Guys & Dolls, does absolute justice to Cline's music, but Tami Workentin can't help but steal the show. Louise is as unrefined, boisterous, and obnoxious as Patsy is ladylike, reserved, and polished, and the contrast between the two makes the nearly instant friendship between them, bound by both music and motherhood, all the more interesting. Music Director and Rep Associate Artist, Dan Kazemi, who also did the music direction Guys & Dolls earlier this season, seemed perfectly at home onstage on piano, alongside Patrick Morrow on Drums and Mike Ritter on bass. The musical performance, in and of itself, is first rate, but the story behind it makes for a show that anyone would enjoy.
Always...Patsy Cline runs through May 20th at the Stackner Cabaret, located within the Patty & Jay Baker Theater Complex at 108 E. Wells St. in Milwaukee. Tickets can be purchased by calling (414) 224-9490, in-person at the Box Office, or online at www.MilwaukeeRep.com.
The Milwaukee Rep recently announced its 65th Season, which will be the largest season in over a decade, featuring 15 productions across four venues with nearly 700 performances, including expanded programming in the Stiemke Studio. The lineup includes Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony-winning musical, In the Heights; the World Premier ofMark Twain's River of Song and, back by popular demand, Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash, at the Stackner Cabaret; August Wilson's Two Trains Running; and, Milwaukee's favorite holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol. Subscription packages are on sale now!
About The Rep
In its 64th Season, Milwaukee Repertory Theater is dedicated to providing the highest level of professional theater to Milwaukee and Wisconsin, in addition to offering a wide range of educational and community programs. Under the leadership of Artistic Director, Mark Clements, and Managing Director, Chad Bauman, Milwaukee Repertory Theater ignites positive change in the cultural, social, and economic vitality of its community by creating world-class theater experiences that entertain, provoke, and inspire meaningful dialogue among an audience representative of Milwaukee's rich diversity.