The life of country western music legend Patsy Cline was cut short due to a plane crash in 1963, but her songs live on in Always … Patsy Cline, which opened at Ocean State Theater Company on June 4 and runs until the 22nd.
Erin McCracken delivers a stellar performance as Cline. McCracken is an engaging performer with a charismatic stage presence and a rich voice that does justice to Cline’s songs, and her energy and charisma was charming and infectious. The other major character in the show is a devoted fan named Louise, played by Lulu Lloyd. Louise has almost all of the spoken dialogue in the show, as she recounts how Cline’s music brought comfort and joy to her life. “Patsy’s music made me feel so alive every time I heard it,” Louise says early in the show.
The relationship between Louise and Cline is heartfelt and deeply engaging and McCracken and Lloyd are perfectly matched. Louise speaks in a Southern twang and has a frisky, no-nonsense attitude. Lloyd gets to wiggle her butt a few times, which amused the audience. She also stepped off stage and engaged with the audience at a few points in the show, even dancing with a male audience member.
The setting for the show is a honky tonk where Patsy is accompanied by the Bodacious Bobcats Band (John C. Brown, John Whidgren, Brian Grochowski, Jonne Gomes, Randy Cloutier) and backup singers (Neil Jeronimo, Brian Pereira).
Creator Ted Swindley, who directed the original production of Always … Patsy Cline, and director Amiee Turner pay tribute to Cline and her ability to captivate audiences. Cline scored major hits on the country charts with “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Lovesick Blues” and “Crazy” – all featured in the show.
You don’t have to be fan of Patsy Cline or country music to enjoy this show. You just have to enjoy good theater.
Always … Patsy Cline runs through June 22 at Ocean State Theatre Company, 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick. Call 401-921-6800, or visit oceanstatetheatre.org.