• [Extended through Sept. 27]

      "Always...Patsy Cline" (R to L) Cori Cable Kidder as Patsy Cline and Nikki D'Amico as Louise Seger (Photo - Gina Long).

      “Always…Patsy Cline” (R to L) Cori Cable Kidder as Patsy Cline and Nikki D’Amico as Louise Seger (Photo – Gina Long).

      What a fun and thoroughly enjoyable evening!

      By Carol  Edger Germain

      Guaranteed you will have “Sweet Dreams” after spending time with Louise Seger (played by Nikki D’Amico), a Patsy super-fan from the time she first heard Patsy on the Arthur Godfrey show in 1957, and Patsy (played by Cori Cable Kidder) singing 27 of her most memorable songs. Patsy was in Houston in 1961 to perform, and eager Louise was at the venue early and met Patsy. They made an immediate connection, and Patsy spent the night chatting with Louise in her kitchen. The next day Louise surprised a local DJ during his early morning radio show by bringing Patsy in for an impromptu interview. The two kept up a penpal relationship over the next two years (until Patsy’s death in a plane crash in 1963).

      Cori Cable Kidder as Patsy Cline (Photo – Gina Long).

      Cori Cable Kidder as Patsy Cline (Photo – Gina Long).

      This musical (written by Ted Swindley and directed by Robert Marra) is based on that friendship, drawing insight from the letters received by Louise from Patsy. The setting is Louise’s kitchen, where she is reminiscing about her encounter with Patsy and subsequent penpal relationship, while the Houston Empire Ballroom stage remains in place on the other side of the stage as Patsy comes and goes, singing her hits, and Louise goes in and out of that scene. The rhythm of the reminiscing and performing allows you to enjoy all the music as though it was a concert, but with the unique twist of it actually occurring in someone’s mind. Cori Cable Kidder’s voice and style were perfect for the role, more than once it was easy to let myself totally believe I had time traveled back to the 60’s and was enjoying Patsy live.

      (R to L) Nikki D’Amico as Louise Seger and Cori Cable Kidder as Patsy Cline (Photo – Gina Long).

      (R to L) Nikki D’Amico as Louise Seger and Cori Cable Kidder as Patsy Cline (Photo – Gina Long).

      Louise was apparently quite an upbeat and fun-loving character, and parts of her life paralleled Patsy’s – motherhood, failure of a marriage. Nikki D’Amico did an outstanding job of fleshing out Louise’s character and personality, you just knew she would be fun to hang out with. Although I was satisfied and entertained with the steady fast pace of the musical, and delighted that there was so much music (kudos to Sean Paxton, the band leader and music director, and all of the excellent band members), I’m wondering how it would have worked to give it more depth, showing the decline of happiness as their marriages failed perhaps, wondering if they kept it at surface level as portrayed or if they confided on a more intimate level. But since it is based on actual letters, I’m assuming either the level of communication in the letters remained the same or the author and director wanted it to be a feel good show from start to finish (which certainly worked well), since we already knew the sad ending of the friendship due to Patsy’s untimely death. Just a fleeting thought, probably because I personally wanted to know more of these two people I had become infatuated with during the performance, but it was nonfiction, the reality was that they only knew each other for two years, so the best of that time was celebrated in this production.

      “Always…Patsy Cline”
      Fri., Sat., & Sun. through September 27
      Due to popular demand, more matinées have been added at 2:30 p.m.:
      Thurs, Aug. 27 – Sat, Aug. 29 – Sat, Sept. 5 – and Sun, Sept. 1
      Sierra Madre Playhouse
      87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.
      Sierra Madre, CA 91024
      Tickets $34.50. Seniors (65+) $32.00. Youth (to age 21) $25.00
      Purchase here.

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