Are you a fan of country music? Do you like musicals based on real events? What about a show led by two women? Well, have I got the show for you! Lyric Arts, in Anoka Minnesota, opened their 2017-2018 season with a remount of their 2016-2017 sold out production of Always...Patsy Cline by Ted Swindley. That's right! It was so good and there was such a high demand for it during its original run that they brought it back for round two!
Always...Patsy Cline about the life and friendship between Louise Seger (played by Lyric Arts and personal favorite Kate Beahen) the famed country singer Patsy Cline (played by last years superstar Gracie Anderson). This simply charming and beautiful story is told through the eyes of Louise Seger and her unlikely friendship with Patsy. The show itself is told in a very interesting format. Louise often breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience while Patsy performs directly to the audience as if you are the audience of the infamous Grand Ole Opry. It's an interesting model and makes for a fun and unique experience, plus it's a jukebox musical so many people recognize a good amount of the songs.
The talent of these two actresses is simply divine. Beahen, who I've had the pleasure of seeing perform in multiple productions, is perfect in this role. The character she plays invites us into her life and memories of experiencing and meeting Patsy Cline. Beahen commands the stage with off the cusp conversations with audience members and hilarious imitations of other characters within the show. Beahen can make the entire theatre roar with laughter with nothing but a look, and that's one of my favorite things about her acting. She is one actress that I would go to see in a show any show.
Gracie Anderson, who plays Patsy Cline, is so good it's scary. The musical features 24 songs including "Honkey Tonk Merry Go Round," "I Fall to Pieces," "Back in Babys Arms," "Crazy," and one of my personal favorite "Walkin' After Midnight." Her distinct voice is nostalgic of the real life country singer before her untimely death. Anderson's voice hits those smooth and rich tones that Patsy did with the same emotional pull. Patsy Cline had a contralto voice, the lowest of the female voices and Anderson nails it. While her singing is strong, her acting is another thing that perfectly wraps this show up in a beautiful bow. She embodied Patsy and also made us feel like she was an old friend.
Another notable mention is the use of a live band that is incorporated into the show, which I absolutely love. They sit on a raised stage through out the entire show and even are incorporated in a few scenes. The Bodacious Bobcats Band are made up of all characters with the variation of the name "Bob" including Joe Bob (Louis Berg-Arnold), Billy Bob (Herb Reinke), Jay Bob (Daniel Anderson), Jim Bob (Steve Schmidt), Bobby Sue (Samantha Kuhn Staneart; who also designed the costumes), and of course...Bob Bob (Drew Berg).
This show has a particular fondness to me because of my dad. My dad is a huge Patsy Cline fan (and yes he saw it last year and again this year...and he might see it again.) and I remember him humming her hits through out the house all the time. Becuase of him, I grew up listening to the country legend. This musical was nostalgic for me, personally, not because I'm old enough to have listened to Patsy while she was on the radio, but because it reminds me of my dad. (Disclaimer: My dad is still alive.)
Always...Patsy Cline is a fantastic, heartwarming production about two strong women and their beautiful friendship. Whether you're a long time fan or new to Patsy Cline's music, I guarantee you'll love this show. It has a little something for everyone and the two stars are a force on stage together.
Always...Patsy Cline plays at Lyric Arts through October 1. Tickets can be bought here. This show most likely will sell out, so get your tickets quickly!