WESTON — Unlike most jukebox musicals, “Always … Patsy Cline” is a true story. And unlike myriad productions out there, the Weston Playhouse version feels very real – as well as being delightfully entertaining.
This Ted Swindley creation, culled from personal letters, adding some of Cline’s most popular songs, proved a huge hit at Sunday afternoon’s matinee at Weston Playhouse at Walker Farm, the company’s intimate new theater. Credit goes to a brilliant singer, an equally brilliant comic actress and a particularly fine pit band.
And then there is the story. Born of poverty, Cline (1932-63) became one of the most successful and influential country and pop singers of her time. One night in Houston, Louise Seger, a divorced housewife and an avid fan, approached Patsy before a concert. The singer was traveling alone and lonely. At the end of the evening, Louise invited Patsy into her home and a deep friendship ensued.
From then on, the two kept in touch through letters and phone calls, sharing the most intimate details of their lives, until Patsy’s untimely death in an airplane crash. Swindley created a witty, fun and touching script from the letters and brought it together with hit songs “Anytime,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “She’s Got You,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Crazy,” and others for joyful evening of entertainment.
First and foremost, what makes the Weston production irresistible is the performance of the two women. Margo Seibert makes no attempt to imitate Cline, but she delivers the star’s unique warmth ad flavor. And Seibert’s performances of the songs are gorgeous, with the ring of authenticity. The obviously excellent music director was Emily Croome.
Celina Dean as Louise is the show’s hostess and a warmer and wittier hostess couldn’t be asked for. Directed by Meredith McDonough, their chemistry was easy and natural, drawing folks in. There were some overdone bits and, unfortunately, some of the tougher moments, like the plane crash, seem glossed over sapping some of the depth of the story. Still, these flaws were few.
In the excellent Weston production, the audience finds itself in a honky-tonk concert hall — which sometimes becomes the Grand Ole Opry. Louise’s kitchen is at the side, offering refuge for their very personal conversations. The very atmospheric staging is by Andrew Boyce, with scenes underscored by Paul Toben’s lighting. Kathleen Geldard’s brilliant period-style costumes helped light up the stage.
And then there was the band. Led by Croome, it was one of the best heard at Weston in recent times, particularly in terms of joy and authenticity. And they found themselves important members of the cast.
More than just an evening of delightful country music, Weston Playhouse’s “Always … Patsy Cline” is irresistible storytelling.