Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Little Theater of Fall River’s Fire Barn show is “Always Patsy Cline.” This show is based on a true story about the country music legend and the fan she called a friend. The title was inspired by Cline’s letters to her friend, Louise Segar which were always signed, “Love Always…Patsy Cline.” This is a tribute to the woman who epitomized country music in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Louise Segar fell in love with Patsy’s voice after seeing her perform on “Walkin’ After Midnight” on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts in 1957. She followed Cline’s career via radio and television and finally met the singer at a concert in Houston in 1961. The two became pen pals up until the 1963 plane crash that claimed Cline’s life. The musical play complete with down home country humor and true emotion includes many of Patsy’s unforgettable hits, 27 in all, such as “Lonely Days”, “I Fall to Pieces”, “Sweet Dreams”, “Walking After Midnight” and of course, my personal favorite, “Crazy.” Director Bobby Perry weaves this funny moving tribute to this country movie star wonderfully with the 27 musical numbers connected with a strong storyline. He casts these two star roles perfectly winning them a resounding standing ovation at the end of the night. It is the must see show of this season.
Bobby brings out the best in these two talented gals, Shonna Neitz as Patsy and Pamela Morgan as Louise. He and his 3 talented band members are an integral part of this marvelous show. They sing four part harmony to “How Great Thou Art” after Patsy’s death with violinist Michael Coelho displaying his lead tenor vocals in it. Shonna delivers a tour de force performance as Patsy Cline. She is onstage almost the whole show. Some of Shonna’s best numbers are “You Belong to Me”, “Crazy” and “If I Could See the World.” The latter one is very poignant when Patsy is missing her own little baby back home.
Pam not only delivers the goods in the comic moments but tugs at your heartstrings in the tender and poignant moments, too. Some comic moments occur when she dances with a man in the audience, conducts the band to make sure the drummer doesn’t play too fast, and in the sing along segment to “Come On In.” Most impressive is the gut wrenching scene when Louise tells the audience Patsy died in a plane crash at the age of 30 which leaves nary a dry eye in the audience. Pam does a splendid job as the starry eyed fan who becomes a friend and a confidante to Patsy via her pen pal letters. Shonna and Pam deliver a rousing performance which makes the audience leap to their feet at curtain call. So for a marvelous musical treat, be sure to catch “Always Patsy Cline” and it will bring you back to the bygone days of the late 50’s and early 60’s. It will move you to laughter and tears at all the appropriate moments. Brava! Tell them Tony sent you.
ALWAYS PATSY CLINE (30 November to 10 December)
Little Theatre of Fall River, Fire Barn, 340 Prospect St, Fall River, MA
1(508)675-1852 or www.littletheatre.net