What is it? The classic songs of country legend Patsy Cline are woven through a story of friendship with her biggest fan. It almost plays as a one-woman show (with wise-cracking fan Louise) and a tribute concert (with Lindsey Welch’s haunting send-up of Cline’s most recognizable hits, including “Walking After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces,” and “Crazy.”)
Why see it? There’s a reason this show returns time and again to Piccolo. You won’t just be sitting among theatergoers. You’ll be sitting among fans.
Who should go? Music lovers pining for the best of the late 1950s and early ’60s American songbook or anyone wondering when white girls first learned to sing from their soul.
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $27-$29 • 2 hours • May 24, June 8 at 4 p.m.; May 25 at 5:30 p.m.; May 26 at 2 p.m.; May 28 at 6:30 p.m.; May 30 at 8:30 p.m.; June 5 at 8 p.m.; June 6 at 6 p.m.; June 7 at 2:30 p.m. • Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. •
Always … A Piccolo Favorite: Musical homage to Patsy Cline returns
The history of Always … Patsy Cline, a musical that weaves the country legend’s biggest hits through a story of her friendship with her biggest fan, is tied closely to Piccolo Spoleto.
Sheri Grace Wenger and her fellow producers at the Footlight Theatre were looking for some money to put on Gypsy in the fall of 1992. Someone suggested a Patsy Cline show he’d seen in Greenville.
“What’s so great about a little musical about Patsy Cline?” Wenger recalls asking.
Then she saw the Upstate production and fell in love. The play stems from the true story of Cline and Louise Seger, a Texas housewife who would call the radio station every hour to request Patsy Cline songs. The two women would share a friendship in Cline’s final few years before the tragic plane crash that took her life in 1963. The production provides an exhaustive list of 27 Patsy Cline hits, including “Walkin’ after Midnight,” “Anytime,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “She’s Got You,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “Crazy.”
Wenger brought it to Charleston for the festival, one of the first times it was brought to the national stage. Write-ups in USA Today, Time, and The New York Times followed. The show eventually landed an off-Broadway run in 1997 and has ranked as one of the most produced shows in America.
“It was like nothing anybody has seen before,” Wenger says. “It hasn’t stopped.”
After returning to Piccolo and the local theaters several times (including a hit run at the Village Playhouse earlier this year), Always … Patsy Cline returns to the Footlight. Wenger couldn’t be happier with the location. There’s a warmth to the play, she says, befitting a small, intimate theater.
Lindsey Welch isn’t Wenger’s first Patsy Cline, but she’s the director’s favorite.
“I don’t think there’s a person who does Patsy better,” she says. “It’s not about bringing your own interpretation to the role. It’s about bringing Patsy out in your voice.”