Classic country tunes are headed to a theater near you

Published 12:30 am Saturday, July 10, 2010

“Always…Patsy Cline,” a musical based on the life of a country music legend, will open Thursday night in Vicksburg.

The two-character show is about Cline’s friendship with Louise Seger, a Houston housewife she met and befriended while on tour. The play was created by Ted Swindley and is based on interviews by Vicksburg native Ellis Nassour for his book, “Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline.”

The Vicksburg production will be presented by the Westside Theatre Foundation, formed about a year and a half ago.

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Producer and co-director Jack Burns said the show, performed throughout the country, never fails to be popular with audiences.

“The music is well-known,” he said. “Anyone over the age of 30 would recognize many of the songs in the production.”

The show features 27 of Cline’s songs, including “Crazy,” “Walking After Midnight” and “I Fall to Pieces.”

The singer will be played by Glenda Arredondo, and Seger by Shirley Stuart. Music will be by the Bodacious Bobcats.

Arredondo, who played Cline last year in the Vickburg Theatre Guild’s production, said she listened to Cline’s music repeatedly so she could get command of her vocal style.

“I think I do a really, really good Patsy Cline,” she said.

Arredondo has been active in the Vicksburg theater community since moving here in 1993, and says “Always…Patsy Cline” is one of her favorites.

“It’s got such a good script and the songs have a purpose — they move the story along,” she said. “I just love the show.”

Stuart is making her theater debut with “Always…Patsy Cline.”

“It’s been a real learning experience,” she said. “Louise is quite over the top. She loves to tell stories — not lies — but she loves to embellish. She’s lots of fun.”

Cline was born in Winchester, Va., in 1932, and died in a plane crash in 1963. She was 30 years old. Best known for her rich tone, she is considered one of the most acclaimed female vocalists of the 20th century.

“There’s a lot of comedy and plenty of laughs (in “Always…Patsy Cline”), but when it comes right down to it, it is a sobering story,” Burns said. “It’s a bit of a commentary on how fleeting life can be and how important it is to spend your time in a valuable way.

“Almost nobody leaves that theater with dry eyes,” he said. “To me, that’s an example of good theater — you’re pulling on the heart strings of the audience.”

“Always…Patsy Cline” will open at 8:15 Thursday night and continue at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and July 23-24, and at 2 p.m. July 25 in the Coral Room of The Vicksburg. Reservations must be made, and snacks will be sold.