Special to the Journal
Country music legend Patsy Cline will be in the spotlight when Theatre Albany opens its production of “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline” on Friday.
The show was created by Dean Regan with Charlie Dick as Production Advisor. “It is a different show from “Always … Patsy Cline,” said theatre Artistic Director Mark Costello. “The framework is that of a radio station (WINC) in Patsy’s hometown of Winchester, Va., wherein a deejay is paying tribute to Cline by spotlighting her career from local bars to the Grand Ole Opry to Las Vegas and ultimately to Carnegie Hall.”
Included in the show are many of Patsy Cline’s great hits as well as some that were not in the previous show.
Jennifer Varnadoe is featured as Patsy. Varnadoe first undertook the role of in Theatre Albany’s production of “Always … Patsy Cline.” The deejay — Little Big Man — will be played by Lon McNeil with Steve Halstead, Doug Lorber and Steve Strowbridge playing various stand-up comics. Members of the band include Suzanne Unger, Anthony LaPorte, Steve Strowbridge, Charlie Meyer and Matt Hoover.
The production is under the direction ofCostello with musical direction by Charlie Meyer. Steve Felmet designed the sets and Ann Brim Streat is handling make up. The backstage crew includes Mary Lou Beasley, Becky Parker and Tom Parker.
Performances are scheduled for February 5, 6 / 12, 13 / 18, 19, 20 at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees set for February 7, 14 and 21 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at 439-7141.
ABOUT PATSY CLINE
Hensley in the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Va., on Sept. 8, 1932. Always spunky and devoted to music, she quit school at the age of fifteen to work in a drug store and help support her single mother and younger brother and sister. In return, her mother dedicated her spare time to helping Patsy’s career, and drove her to Nashville when she was only sixteen for her first Grand Ole Opry try-out.
Patsy was never shy about self-promotion and impressed everyone the moment they heard her. Ironically, her music talent was never really rewarded until “Walkin’ After Midnight”, which was recorded 10 years after she began singing professionally. Her incredible rendition of this song on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts in 1957 not only won the contest, but finally set her on the road to the acclaim she deserved. It was followed three years later by the memorable “I Fall to Pieces”. Then came “Crazy” (written by Willie Nelson), “She’s Got You”, “Leavin’ on Your Mind”, “Sweet Dreams” and “Faded Love”. Her last single release was “A Closer Walk with Thee”. She realized her lifetime ambition of joining the Grand Ole Opry in 1960 and won 10 awards at the WSM Country Music Festival.
In the early 1960s Patsy’s life began settling down – just as her career began to pick up. Two children, a dream home, and a stack of hit records were finally hers, but she would not be able to enjoy them long. Patsy Cline died in an airplane crash on March 5, 1963 while hurrying back to her family after a benefit concert in Kansas City.
Patsy’s popularity is witnessed by the fact that she is the No. 1 juke box play in the world. Her Greatest Hits album has been in first place for over 200 weeks on Billboard’s Top Country Catalogue Albums. On March 1, 1995, Patsy was memorialized with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.