The charms of “Always… Patsy Cline” return to New London
NEW LONDON, Wisconsin (WFRV) – Three sentences say it all. “I did.” “She was 3 years old.” “She’s been singing Patsy for a long time.”
The sentences were in response to a question following the special version of âAlwaysâ¦ Patsy Clineâ that the Wolf River Theatrical Troupe brought back: âWhen did she know about her voice?
In the show, Molly Brown embraces so many colors of the voice of the beloved country music star that an aura of reality fills the air. In some ways, this naturalness is unbeatable.
Director Maggie Brown answered the question as the audience left Friday night’s performance at the Wolf River Theater. As Molly Brown’s mother, she knew her daughter had the voice of Patsy Cline when she was 3.
The current race is their fourth performance of âAlwaysâ¦ Patsy Clineâ at the theater. The most recent time was in 2017, when I wrote this in a review: âIf the shows could be bottled, this one would be labeled Special Elixir and placed on a conspicuous shelf.
What made me step back was the opportunity to taste this elixir again.
The show talks about âNo. 1 fan. In this case, Debbie Martin is so enthusiastic and natural that she passes the fan, Louise Seger, for the real one. Everything she does goes hand in hand with Molly Brown creating the illusion of Patsy Cline.
Maggie Brown, founder of the company and director of several of its productions, brings together many elements of the production.
The story is taken from real life: Louise followed Patsy and his hits from the mid-1950s to today, May 29, 1961. Louise tells the story. Patsy came to Houston on tour alone. There, Louise befriends Patsy. Patsy meets at Louise’s for bacon and eggs in the late evening and sharing secrets. Friendship lasts beyond the night.
The show is a showcase of 27 songs by Patsy that are built around this story.
One advantage is that the county’s varied styles of music are live, provided on stage by six musicians and three backing singers.
Louise’s cooking is important. Patsy is seen appearing at the Grand Ole Opry, on TV, and the Esquire Ballroom in Houston, as well as other locations.
Above all, the show has Patsy as a clothes horse. Molly Brown steps out in a series of dresses and outfits and flashy outfits (and a dress at Louise’s) as Patsy would wear to a concert. The production looks like a 50s-60s fashion show.
Molly Brown moves comfortably in the vocal range of Patsy Cline. There is fullness, cadence, timbre, technique, tricks. Patsy Cline did not sing in a straight line. Molly Brown loves to walk around like her, doing justice to the distinctive voice that can be chosen (again) from the crowd of country music voices. Some songs come out better than others, but the flavor of most of the 27 songs (that’s a lot) is there.
Extremely important in this production, Debbie Martin SOARS as the fantastic fan Louise. Debbie Martin is a live feed as she plays the character – and with the audience, ad libbing a few tracks. She has a Southern accent from having lived in West Virginia, which is perfect for her character. She is energetic, flexible, radiant of expression, spontaneous and greedy. Her Louise Seger is as good as you could ask for in a production of “Alwaysâ¦ Patsy Cline”.
The stage consists of Louise’s kitchen and pieces of history, including a table and part of the look of the Esquire Ballroom. The theater includes album covers and posters for Schlitz beer, which plays a role in the story and with the band. Projections on a screen at the back of the stage allow us to locate the moments and places in Patsy’s life.
The public takes the show into account. Favorite songs elicit applause. Sometimes applause occurs. On Friday, the performance achieved what a beautiful theater does – absolute silence in the audience as the story turns dramatic.
Molly Brown singing Patsy for a long time, Debbie Martin channeling Patsy’s # 1 fan and Patsy Cline songs being Patsy Cline songs add up wonderfully.
Creative: Author – Ted Swindley; director / producer – Margie Brown; scenography and decor – Margie Brown; props – Margie Brown and actors; costumes – Linda McFaul, Mary Ellen Fields, Margie Brown, actors; makeup – casting; dresser – Linda McFaul, Blair Schulz; light and sound design – Chris Berberich; light and sound operators – Chris Berberich, Tim Schulz, Briley Schulz
Patsy Cline – Molly Brown
Louise Seger – Debbie Martin
Performers in The Bodacious Bobcats: Polly GÃ¶del, piano; Barb Bricco, guitar; Derek Schulz, guitar; Tiffany Schulz, bass guitar; Chayton Behnke, steel guitar; Paul Nieto, drums; Ben Stillwell, Mathew Zeichert, Josh Barnett, backing vocals
Duration of operation: Two hours 20 minutes
Remaining performance: 7:30 p.m. July 17, 22-24
“Honky Tonk Merry Go-Round”
“Back in baby’s arms”
“Walk after midnight”
“I’m falling apart”
“It was not God who made the angels Honky Tonk”
“Come in (and sit down)”
“Your cheating heart”
“You belong to Me”
“San Antonio Rose”
“Blue of love”
“She got you”
“Three cigarettes in an ashtray”
“Seven days of loneliness”
“If I could see the world (through the eyes of a child)”
“Just a closer walk”
“Kentucky blue moon”
“I have to Lotta Rhythm”
“Shake Rattle and Roll”
“How tall you are”
“If you have the right to leave your mind”
FOLLOWING: âWar of the Worlds: A Live Radio Dramaâ by Howard W. Koch based on the novel by HG Wells, October 14-16, 21-23.
THE PLACE: The Wolf River Theater, located at 304 St. Johns Place in downtown New London, hosts performances by the Wolf River Theatrical Troupe. The building was constructed as a church in 1906 and most were previously used as Real Opportunities Outreach after its years as Christian Cornerstone Church. The exterior is red brick, with crosses on the roof and on a side entrance. The rectangular auditorium can accommodate 80 people on movable chairs. The old altar serves as the stage, with an ornate wooden beam and two columns with Corinthian capitals on either side establishing the center stage. The beam contains theater lighting fixtures. Above the walls, wooden shutters cover the window spaces. The performance space is unique among the theaters in the region. It is particularly deep. The stage is approximately 30 feet wide and at least 35 feet deep. To the left of the stage is the entrance to the rest rooms. At the rear of the house is the ticket office and a small space for concessions and exhibits, including a newspaper clipping from 1980 when the building was an episcopal church.
Personal story: The print program mentions that Patsy Cline was a regular on the Jimmy Dean TV show in the 1950s, and it occurs to me: it’s between shows at the WBAY auditorium, and I just finished a interview with Jimmy Dean on his tour bus parked next to the auditorium. He talks about his hit series and his frustration at not being widely recognized despite themselves. (Dean would be recognized by the Country Music Hall of Fame after his death). After the interview, I can barely get off his bus because of the pain. I had thrown my back. I must have looked pathetic because Dean looked shocked and offered me a massage to help me out of my misery. I refused and staggered. You may have heard of the Jimmy Dean sausage brand. Same person. Whenever such a sausage comes my way through an advertisement or on my plate, I smile inwardly. He also put on a good show.