FAIRBANKS - “Always...Patsy Cline,” is being brought back to Fairbanks by popular demand, thanks to Barney McClure Productions.
The two-woman musical, starring local musicians Theresa Bauer-Berger and Janelle Sweeny, is based on the true story of classic country singer Patsy Cline’s friendship with a Houston housewife, Louise Seger.
“Theresa will take on 97 percent of the music while Janelle takes on 97 percent of the dialogue,” director Diane McClure said. “And for the people who really honored Patsy Cline, they’re going to just love Theresa in this role.”
Not only does the show give fans of the former country music diva a chance to relive some of Cline’s greatest moments, it also provides a closer look at Cline’s more intimate life, touching on the humor, sorrow and harsh realities that plagued her life. The production highlights the ups and downs of Cline’s life, including her debut on the Grand Ole Opry, until the time of the tragic plane crash that led to her untimely death at the age of 30 in 1963.
The performance features approximately 30 of Cline’s most popular songs, more than 16 costume changes and a series of monologues touching the deepest sentiments between Cline and Seger.
The story is based on a portion of Cline’s life, beginning in 1957 when her country hit “Walkin’ After Midnight” debuted and instantly topped charts on both pop and country hit lists. Cline was one of the first country music singers to do this. Seger first heard Cline on the “Arthur Godfrey Show” in 1957, Seger became an immediate fan of Cline’s and constantly hounded the local disc jockey to play Cline’s records on the radio.
In 1961, Cline had a show in Houston and met Seger and her buddies, who arrived an hour-and-a-half prior to show time to catch a glimpse of Cline. The two women struck up a friendship that was built over pots of coffee and hours of conversation either in person or by mail.
The pen-pal relationship between Cline and Seger provides much of the plot for the show.
Written by Ted Swindley, a Houston director, the show was originally presented locally in 2003 and sold out each performance, something the McClures credit to the humor, poignancy and great music of the late Patsy Cline.
“It offers fans who remember Patsy Cline when she was alive a chance to look back, and it gives new fans an idea of what seeing her was like and what she meant to her original fans and followers,” McClure said.
An extensive list of local musicians fill out the cast, including Jo Knox, Rick Brainard, Don Hampton and Bob Workman.
Music director Bart Fargo will lead the orchestra featuring Art Fargo, Wells Fargo, Lew String Fargo, Howe Fargo and Chick Boom-Fargo, also known as The Fargo Fiasco Family Band.
Though her career was short-lived, running only five-and-a-half years, Cline is one of the most decorated women of country music, having received 12 awards for her musical achievements during her lifetime and three more following her death, including an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
With the production of “Always...Patsy Cline” running weekends through Jan. 24, Cline’s legend lives on.
Contact staff writer Rebecca George at 459-7504.
If you go:
What: “Always...Patsy Cline.”
When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Jan. 24
Where: Pioneer Park Centennial Center Theatre
Tickets: $25, at 479-4709