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“Growing up, it seemed like everyone had a story about Patsy Cline and wanted to be like her or even meet her,” says Matt Conner. The celebrated gay musical theater composer and director was raised in Winchester, Va., mere blocks from the childhood home of the female music pioneer and legend. His great uncle was even a guitarist in Cline’s band.
At the moment, Conner is rekindling all that Cline-related history and memories — familial, regional, musical, cultural — as he readies a new production of Always…Patsy Cline, a musical revue that debuted over 30 years ago and went on to a successful Off-Broadway run before finding its groove as one of the most produced stage shows in cities and towns all across America.
Writer/director Ted Swindley based Always…Patsy Cline on the true story of the unlikely friendship that developed between Cline and a Houston housewife and superfan — a bond, sustained by regular correspondence, that lasted right up until Cline’s untimely death at the age of 30 in a plane crash.
Sixty years after Cline and Louise Seger first met, the Virginia-based Creative Cauldron has turned to Conner to direct the show as a live, in-person production, staged outdoors with COVID-19 protocols in effect, in Cherry Hill Park in Falls Church. (Shows will be rescheduled in the event of weather-necessitated cancellations.)
Erin Granfield takes on the role of Seger, regaling audiences with her memories of and letters shared between Cline, who will be brought to life by four different performers over the course of the show’s run, each offering “a signature interpretation of [Cline]’s timeless musicianship” while also demonstrating her wide, multi-genre appeal and influence.
Always…Patsy Cline includes renditions of 19 of Cline’s biggest hits, ranging from “Crazy” to “I Fall to Pieces” to “Walking After Midnight.”
The production launches this Friday, May 28, with a weekend’s worth of shows featuring Sally Imbriano in the role of Cline, followed by Candie Shedd-Thompson starting Friday, June 4, Kanysha Williams on June 11, and Katy Benko June on June 18. Pianist Refiye Tapman will provide accompaniment as the production’s musical director.
Performances are at 7 p.m. every Friday through Sunday through June 20 in Cherry Hill Park at 312 Park Ave. in Falls Church. Tickets are $35. Call 703-436-9948 or visit www.creativecauldron.org.
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