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New River Valley Regional Theatre to produce timeless classic “Always … Patsy Cline”

For many musicals, success is defined by a Broadway marquee, but Broadway is far from the only place a show can thrive. Few musicals demonstrate this quite so well as Always…Patsy Cline, which began its life in the heartland of America and spent nearly a decade gaining steam before finding the lights of New York City.

The New River Valley Regional Theatre, located in Pulaski at the historic Pulaski Theatre, continues to share this wonderful show that has proven itself time and again over the past 30 years. Directed by Patrick Kearns, featuring Emily Walter from North Dakota as Patsy Cline, and Robin Brooke as Louise Seger, it’s sure to remain a crowd pleaser.

In 1988, Ted Swindley was the Artistic Director of Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston, and he desperately needed a show to put on his stage. After happening upon an interview with Texas housewife Louise

Seger, he discovered not only a Cline connection to the Houston area, but the heart of a show that would one day capture hearts from Atlanta to Australia.

The original production, which hit the stage in October of that year, was a modest one-act cabaret performance, but the response from local audiences was anything but. The play was a bona fide hit with local audiences, though Swindley was dubious of any broader appeal.

“I thought the show would be one with a little local appeal for Houston audiences,” Swindley told Houston Press in 2013, “but I soon found out that Patsy was a huge star and the story of her friendship with Louise was universal.” Just how universal, though, he could have never guessed.

Swindley returned to his script two years later at a theater in South Carolina, when it began to take shape as the full-length musical audiences know today. Swindley dedicated himself to the show, which caught the eye of executives from the Grand Ole Opry, who caught a performance of the show in Atlanta. Following a one-night-only performance at the Grand Ole Opry House in 1993, a full-scale production was mounted in Nashville a year later.

The Nashville production received an encore run the following summer, while the rest of the country was also catching on to Swindley’s sleeper hit. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts opened the show at their Garner Galleria Theatre in August 1995.

Chicago’s Northlight Theatre began their own run in 1996. And finally, in June 1997, Always … Patsy Cline found its off-Broadway home at the Variety Arts Theatre, where it received rave reviews and ran for 192 performances.

In the 30 years since Always … Patsy Cline was conceived, it has become a staple in regional theatres all over the world. From Texas to the UK and Australia and now to Pulaski, Seger and Cline’s friendship and Patsy’s timeless tunes continue to enchant audiences, and will keep casting their spell for years to come.

Always … Patsy Cline by Ted Swindley will play Oct. 26 and 28 and Nov. 2, 3 and 4 at the historic Pulaski Theatre in downtown Pulaski. Tickets are available online (nrvregionaltheatre.com), Martin’s Pharmacy, Pulaski County Visitors Center, or at the door. You can also purchase tickets by calling (540) 440-8665.

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