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Always … Patsy Cline finishes run

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

The New River Valley Regional Theatre’s production of “Always … Patsy Cline” ended a six-show run Sunday at the historic Pulaski Theater. The play is based on the true story of country music singer Patsy Cline and her friendship with Houston housewife Louise Seger.

The show opened with Patsy Cline, in full western garb, singing some of her best known songs at the Grand Ole Opry. From there the play focuses on Louise, a huge fan, who constantly calls her local radio station to request Patsy Cline songs. Louise meets Patsy as she wanders in before a show in Houston and the two become good friends overnight.

When Patsy leaves town, Louise doesn’t expect to hear from her again but for several years afterward, Patsy writes heartfelt letters to Louise always ending with the phrase, “Always … Patsy Cline.”

The show featured a generous portion of Patsy Cline’s most well-known songs as sung with verve and skill by Emily Walter, one of the only performers endorsed to play the role by the Patsy Cline estate. Walter has played Patsy Cline in several different productions and has become familiar with Patsy’s singing style as well as her sometimes tumultuous personal life.

“She had a hard existence for a long time,” said Walter. “Her marriage was bad and she had to be away from her kids. I love that she sings from the heart. Big and brassy and it’s nice. I like singing the songs with all the growls and the cries. It’s fun. It feels like it’s coming from your gut.”

Walter came out in several different and equally attractive outfits that she, herself, supplied for the production.

The role of Louise was played with much liveliness by Robin Brooke, founder of the NRV Theatre. Together the two actresses deftly conveyed the enduring friendship shared by these two women to an appreciative audience.

Musical renditions of Patsy Cline’s songs were a huge part of the show and the Bodacious Bobcats, featuring Joe Bob on keyboards, Bob Bob on drums, Bass Bob on Bass, Lonesome Don Bob on Steel Guitar and, improbably, Tom Cat on Guitar held up their part of the bargain nicely.

Theater veteran Patrick Kearns directed the play. Kearns directed Emily Walter in both “Patsy, A Musical Tribute” and “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline” in years past. Kearns also acts as the mischievous sound man at performances of the Pulaski Radio Show at the Pulaski Theatre.

“I’ve directed both of these ladies before over the past 25 years,” said Kearns. “I think both Emily and Robin are amazing performers and they do a nice job with the show.”

And they most certainly did.

The New River Valley Theatre’s next production is a Christmas show entitled, Holiday Magic which will premiere Friday, Nov. 30, and continue into December. The Christmas edition of the Pulaski Radio Show is Dec. 22.

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