Always…Patsy Cline

 

So the singer signed off on her letters to a fan, which form the basis of this warm and delightful jukebox musical. The theatrical experience has been well-received across the United States, and enjoyed a successful run off-Broadway. Under the able direction of Allegra Linonati, the North Coast Repertory Theatre is presenting another in its series of satisfying productions.

Patsy Cline was like Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin and several other American stars in that she did not write her own material. Instead, she built her reputation on superb interpretations of songs like Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” or Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” Those songs, and two dozen others form the bedrock of the play, which traces the story of how Louise (Cathy Barnett) and Patsy (Katie Karel) met in Houston and formed a supportive relationship.

Cathy Burnett as Louise and Katie Karel as Patsy

In the hands of a lesser talent, the role of Patsy would be cloying. Instead, Karel brings a warmth to the Patsy character and a strength to the singing. Likewise, Barnett’s sometimes sassy demeanor is a foil for the basic sweetness of Patsy. Visits to a Houston ballroom and radio station establish the pair’s relationship. A performance at the Grad Ole Opry is also included, all of which work well on Marty Burnett’s confident stage design.

Other standout songs include “I Fall to Pieces”, “Sweet Dreams” and “Walking After Midnight.” The crack four piece band is comprised of Daniel Doss (Music Director & Keyboard), Fred Ubaldo Jr. (Bass), Tim Cook (Pedal Steel Guitar), Jeff Dalrymple (Drums). The band is superb, offering just the right balance of restraint and dynamics to support the singing.

It is a great evening.

 


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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