AlWAYS... PATSY CLINE AT THE CANYON THEATRE GUILD HAS BEEN HELD OVER! We are all having such a great time and the turn out has been amazing! We now have 2 more weekends left! Saturday Evenings at 8p.m. August 27, Sept. 3 Sunday matinees at 2p.m. August 28, Sept. 4
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Anytime right for ‘Patsy’
Sweet dreams of her at Canyon Theatre Guild
Posted: August 5, 2011 6:00 a.m.
Updated: August 5, 2011 6:00 a.m.
I liked this play.
But I will frame that with this: I love 's music and I really like a great country-style band - both of which feature prominently in the presentation of "Always ... Patsy Cline," which opened at the Canyon Theatre Guild in Newhall last Saturday night.
If you like either of those things yourself, you will most likely enjoy the play.
However, be advised, this is a very simple story, a tribute to singer Patsy Cline, offered up through a look back at a few of her performances and other events, and narrated by her longtime friend, Louise Seger.
The story goes like this:
"The musical is based on the true story of Patsy Cline's friendship with a fan - Houston housewife Louise Seger. Louise first heard Patsy Cline on the "Arthur Godfrey Show" in 1957. She became an immediate and avid fan of Patsy's and constantly hounded her local disc jockey to play Patsy Cline's records on the radio. When Patsy traveled to Houston for a show in 1961, Louise and her buddies arrived about an hour-and-a-half early and, by coincidence, the two women met and struck up a friendship that was to culminate in Cline spending the night at Louise's house. The friendship lasted until Patsy's untimely death in a plane crash in 1963."
As you can see, there is no real roller coaster of emotions here, no plot and, certainly, no uplifting conclusion. There is just "Here's how I met Patsy, here's what we did and here's what I thought about it," from Louise.
The set doesn't really change in the different scenes, and there are only the two characters, Patsy and Louise. Everything must be carried by Louise's country-girl sass and Patsy's singing. And, in those, it is carried well - which is, of course, a tribute to the women who played the respective parts: Marie Wise-Hawkins as Patsy and Dawnita Kay Shelden as Louise.
The heart of the production and, indeed, the point of it, is the music. Pretty much, the story is an excuse for someone very talented to perform Patsy Cline's songs live.
And I have no problem with that.
Director Michael Davies noted that he appreciates older country music (such as Cline's). "It's from the roots, from the heart," he said. "I listened to all those songs when I was younger. They tell stories, and pull you up when you are down." But he added that he had to get the right people to play the leads - and for the band, which, incidentally, Wise-Hawkins helped him put together.
And, oh my, that band ... everyone I spoke to on opening night was absolutely amazed by the level of their talent and, even more, by learning that all five members have never performed together before. For this performance The Bodacious Bobcats included Houston Davis Jones on bass, Kurt Fries on keyboard, Jesse Olema on fiddle (man I loved that fiddle), Carmine Sardo on guitar and Jeff Winter on drums. Boys, wherever you are right now, stand up and take another bow. You were absolutely magnificent.
Now, Patsy Cline's music would stand up under almost any voice. But when you come to a performance where someone will "be" Patsy Cline, you want that actress to channel Patsy's voice. Congratulations, Marie Wise-Hawkins, you did just that. You have a great singing voice in general and, as Patsy, you were terrific. We hung on every line. (Well, once they got the microphone situation worked out so the band didn't drown you out.) In particular, I was carried away by "Crazy" and "Faded Love."
Now "Patsy" was pretty much on stage to sing, so there wasn't much room for acting. That was brought courtesy of Dawnita Key Shelden as Louise, with a twangy, high-stepping, slap-your-bottom country sassiness that won the audience over. I will admit that her energy seemed almost over the top at first - but, as the Louise character grew on me, it all became "down-home." And though the narrative form didn't leave too much range for emotion to be expressed, you felt an ocean of it behind Louise's understated summations, especially after Patsy's death.
Additionally, Shelden has a pretty good singing voice, and her duet with Wise-Hawkins on "True Love" was very nice.
The mention of Patsy's death, and the subsequent end of the play, seem to come quite suddenly, and left me, anyway, wanting more. But we got one more song after the ending applause, which, well, brought more applause.
So, go see "Always ... Patsy Cline" for the music. The play will bring it to you in a touching fashion, which is really all the writer intended, I think.
"Always ... Patsy Cline" plays at the Canyon Theatre Guild on Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. through Aug. 28. Ticket prices are $12 to $15 for seniors and juniors and $15 to $17 for adults. Call the box office for reservations at (661) 799-2702. The CTG is located at 24242 Main Street, Newhall, CA 91321.
Posted by Marie at 12:11 PM