By Michall Jeffers
Louise Seger (Susann Fletcher) is in honky tonk heaven. Not only is she finally getting to see her idol Patsy Cline (Erin McCracken) sing in person, she’s also made a friend of the great country star. Louise, a divorced mother of two, first heard Patsy sing on the Arthur Godfrey Show. She recognized immediately that Patsy was something special, and hounded the local Houston disc jockey to play her records again and again. When he demurred that he’s already played the same song too many times, Louise crowed “Well, turn ‘er over,” and he did.
Louise is a skinny little woman with cat-eye glasses, and hair that looks like she cuts it herself in a mirror. In 1957, even taking into account what passes for fashion in Texas, no one could accuse her of being chic. But she is loyal, and when a DJ tells her Patsy will be appearing locally, she jumps at the chance. She makes sure she and her friends get to the venue super early, and is rewarded when she sees Patsy herself standing by the jukebox. She works up her courage to go over and introduce herself, and is delighted that Patsy is as warm and gracious as she could possibly be. Louise is thrilled when Patsy offers to come sit at her table, and soon, they are fast friends.
Patsy needs to change for her show. When she reappears decked out to the nines in a red dress, complete with crinoline and piping, and a matching pair of cowboy boots, to Louise, she is the height of glamour. Patsy asks her to make sure the drummer doesn’t rush her music; Louise gleefully accepts the assignment, then declares herself Cline’s new manager, and gets Patsy more money for her performance. After this they are BFFs; the singer from Winchester, Virginia, and her most devoted fan from Texas are bonded in sisterhood; Patsy even spends the night at Louise’s house.
Always…Patsy Cline is a two person show, but The Bodacious Bobcat Band provides the best in what used to be called Country Western music. As Louise works the crowd (“Y’all must be Baptists”) and even picks out a partner to dance, Patsy sails through one favorite tune after another. The audience applauds in recognition at the oldies but goodies: “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “I Fall To Pieces,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” and a cavalcade of other beloved hits.”
The title of the show is taken from Patsy’s signature in the letters she wrote to Louise. Though they only knew each other briefly, from their first meeting in 1961 until Patsy’s tragic death at 30 in a 1963 plane crash, the relationship was deeply meaningful to both women. Always…Patsy Cline had a successful Off-Broadway run in 1997, and has been performed to audiences around the globe. Susann Fletcher brings such warmth and humor to her portrayal of Louise, we completely identify with her loyalty and her love for her idol; and we can’t help but dream how wonderful it might be if the celebrities we admire from afar turned out to be our very dear friend, like Patsy.
Always… Patsy Cline, Westchester Broadway Theatre
1 Broadway Plaza, Elmsford, NY 10526
Created by Ted Swindley
Director: Amiee Turner, Musical Director: Ken Lundie
Set Design: Steve Loftus, Lighting Design: Andrew Gmoser, Sound Design: Jonathan Hatton & Mark Zuckerman, Costume Coordination: Heidi Giarlo
Cast: Erin McCracken (Patsy Cline), Susann Fletcher ( Louise Seger)