Theater Review: ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE (North Coast Rep)

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by Milo Shapiro on December 12, 2021

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional


Is it a musical? A play with music? A tribute act? A duo cabaret act? Always…Patsy Cline is a little of each, coming together sweetly to be something unto itself.

APC tells the true story of Louise Seger (Becky Barta), a devoted fan of country-music legend Patsy Cline, adoring of Patsy even before the singer’s career had truly soared. Learning, in 1957, that Patsy (Katie Karel) is coming to a venue near her, Louise insists that her boyfriend and two friends arrive hours early to get a good table seat near the stage. As Patsy isn’t a huge star yet, the foursome are the only ones there for a long time…until Patsy shows up shortly after they do and the two women meet.

Most of the program, outside of the singing, is Louise talking directly to us about her life before, through, and after that fated night. Under Allegra Libonati’s direction, the story is sweet and compelling, though not exactly a plot. Mostly it serves as a vehicle for Ms. Barta, who nails both the look and sound of Ms. Cline in twenty-six songs, backed by a lively and versatile four-piece band. Sometimes the specific song is woven into the storyline; other times, Louise will reference Patsy and we just cut to Barta as if she were on the radio. Patsy does have some lines interacting with Louise, but this two woman show is primarily Louise telling her tale and Pasty singing.

Fans of Patsy will revel in Karel’s rich tones and passionate delivery. A little more story and one or two fewer songs might have made the program a bit more compelling, but as it is a true tale, inventing more plot might have been off target. As the glue holding together all of the singing, a strong performance is needed from Louise; Ms. Barta fits the role strongly and loveably as we root for her to find her way to her idol. Her down-home, feisty, good-natured character is reminiscent of Roseanne (if you recall back to Season 1 when she seemed that way).

Overall, APC is a warm, comfortable two hours and a perfect pick for holiday viewing.

photos by Aaron Rumley

Always…Patsy Cline
North Coast Repertory Theatre
987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach (San Diego area)
Wed-Sun at 7:30 plus Sat & Sun at 2
ends on January 2, 2012
for tickets, call 858.481-1055 or visit North Coast Rep

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