Always…Patsy Cline by Ted Swindley is almost two one-woman shows, as the only characters on stage, Patsy Cline and her #1 fan, Louise, don’t spend that much time interacting, though they often share the stage. One show – a concert by Patsy Cline, the other show – Louise’s story of being Patsy’s biggest fan.
Louise first hears the voice of Patsy Cline when her children are watching the Arthur Godfrey show on TV. Patsy had won a contest and was on the show every morning for two weeks. Louise becomes obsessed, and every day at work as an electronics repair person ( “We can’t all be beauticians.”) she calls her local radio station to request a Patsy Cline song. One day, the DJ mentions to her that Patsy Cline was going to be in town (Houston) so Louise arranges to go to the show with her boss and her boyfriend. They arrive VERY early, and when Patsy walks in to check out the place hours before the band arrives, Louise introduces herself. Patsy joins them for a Schlitz before the show and between sets.
After the show, it is too late to get a taxi back to her hotel, so, Patsy goes back to Louise’s place for some bacon and eggs and to spend the night. They stay up late talking as if they have known each other forever. The next morning, Louise takes Patsy to the local radio station for an impromptu interview, to her hotel to pack, and then to the airport. Exchanging addresses, Louise assumes she’ll never hear from Patsy again. A few months later Louise receives a letter, thanking her for her kindness and they maintain a relationship thru the mail for the rest of their lives. At the Talk Back the day we went (which by the way, was almost sold out) they said that Louise was a real person but the character in the play was actually a composite of number of female fans with whom Patsy corresponded.
Louise is a firecracker, played to the hilt by Celina Dean. Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious, frequently engaging the audience, encouraging us to clap and sing along, while telling her story. At one point, Louise goes off stage and grabs someone to dance with her. Now, we all know how those things usually go and just hope the poor guy doesn’t embarrass himself too badly. She starts dancing with this handsome man, and they actually dance as if they had rehearsed this. You hear people murmuring, “this must be part of the show.” Soon all eyes were off stage following Louise and her very proficient dance partner. After the show, we saw the man waiting in the lobby and asked him if he was, indeed, a plant. He said, “No… but I am Celina’s husband.” Josh Dean had just arrived from LA to see his wife’s performance. Lucky for us we caught the show when Josh and Celina Dean were dancing.
(Side note – they followed our suggestion and we saw them again after the show at Mildred’s Dairy Bar at the Vermont Country Store – where we ALWAYS enjoy a Maple Creemee before or after each show.) One of the perks about the Weston Playhouse is you get see these high quality performers on stage, then hob knob with them at the local dairy bar. Well, we neither hobbed, nor knobbed, we just waved, but you get the idea. Kind of like rubbing elbows with the stars in LA or NYC, but with green grass, mountains, and fresh air. Instead of city congestion and horns honking, the most disturbing noise you might hear would be one of Harlow Wilcox’s cows mooing in the distance.
The star of the show, of course, is Patsy Cline. Well, the star of the show is Margo Seibert. Trying to think of a way to describe her voice, “luxurious” keeps coming to mind. I honestly don’t know what Patsy Cline sounded like, but oh, MARGO SEIBERT, now there’s a voice. She has a wonderful range, impressive stage presence, and the songs were filled with emotion. Whether dressed in a cowgirl outfit, elegant dress, or even a robe and slippers, she emanates “Star Material.”
The stage is simple, rather barn-like, as you might imagine a Texas honky-tonk would look, with one corner of the stage set up as a small kitchen with table and chairs. The six musicians who formed the Bodacious Bobcats, lined up along the back of the stage, were wonderful. Mostly they played, but occasionally chimed in with some vocals. Of course, a country band must have a pedal steel guitar to give it that authentic country sound, and they did. If you’re a country music fan, you’re going to love it. Not so much a country music fan? Don’t worry, you’re still going to love it.
At the talk back, Margot said before the show she knew only a few of the 28 songs in the show. I recognized only a few of them, myself. Of course, with 28 songs, crossing a number of genres, you’re likely to have heard of at least some of them:
- Crazy by Willie Nelson
- Your Cheatin’ Heart by Hank Williams
- I Fall to Pieces by Hank Cochran/Harlan Howard
- Shake, Rattle and Roll by Charles Calhoun
- Faded Love by John Wills/Bob Wills
- How Great Thou Art and Just a Closer Walk – traditional hymns
If you asked me six months ago who Patsy Cline was, I’d probably have answered “a country singer” and I would have had a 50/50 chance of guessing correctly whether or not she was still alive. That was the extent of my knowledge. For the record, Patsy Cline, unfortunately, died at the age of 30 in a plane crash in 1963. In spite of, or perhaps because of the fact that I grew up in the South, I was never a big country music fan. All those mournful songs of having your heart stomped on week after week were just too much. Now, however, I am a big fan of Margo Seibert and Celina Dean, and even the Bodacious Bobcats. If you’re a Patsy Cline fan, of course you’ll want to go. Not so sure? Open your mind and go anyway. Clap, stomp, and sing along with Celina Dean and just let the vocal talent of Margo Seibert wash over you. You’ll be glad you did.
is playing August 1 – 25th
on the Walker Farm stage
(705 Main Street, Weston, VT)
Tickets are available online
or call the box office at 802-824-5288.
Tue-Sat at 7:30pm
Wed & Sat at 2pm
Sundays at 3pm
ALSO AT WESTON PLAYHOUSE
Oklahoma! : thru August 10th
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf : August 15th – September 1st
New Works Festival : September 13th-15th and 20-22nd
Indecent : September 26th – October 10th