LIVE: “Always, Patsy Cline” @ The Mac-Haydn Theatre, Chatham [GailSez]

Houston fan Louise Seger (Rhnea Wright) listens to Patsy Cline (Jacqueline Petroccia) on the radio before their 1961 meeting at the Empire Ballroom.

Houston fan Louise Seger (Rhnea Wright) listens to Patsy Cline (Jacqueline Petroccia) on the radio before their 1961 meeting at the Empire Ballroom.

Both times I have had Always…Patsy Cline on my reviewing schedule I have looked at it warily and with much sighing, and both times I have left the Mac-Haydn high as a kite and happy as a clam. (Shall we put a clam on a string and see if it flies?)

Somehow the idea of a show about Patsy Cline (1932-1963) is unappealing, while the reality is just the opposite. Back in 1997 Ted Swindley took a chapter from Ellis Nassour’s biography, Patsy Cline: An Intimate Biography, and turned it into a show jam-packed with wonderful tunes and laugh-out-loud comedy, with a real human story at its heart. It has played all over the world to great success, and I can see why.

Swindley was the Artistic Director of the Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston and when be came up with the idea of a musical about Cline his first question was: Had she ever played Houston? That led him to the chapter in Nassour’s biography which consisted of the author’s interview with Louise Seger (1932-2004), a Houston housewife who met and became friends with Cline when she played the Esquire Ballroom in Houston in 1961 – a friendship that continued, mostly by letter, until Cline’s untimely death in a plane crash.

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