Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stages St. Louis Opener Puts Fresh Spin on Country Legend; Theater Review; 'Always ... Patsy Cline' Is a Small but Fun Show

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stages St. Louis Opener Puts Fresh Spin on Country Legend; Theater Review; 'Always ... Patsy Cline' Is a Small but Fun Show

Article excerpt

The 2013 season at Stages St. Louis opens with by far the smallest show the troupe has ever staged and one of its most entertaining.

"Always ... Patsy Cline" has only two characters. Veteran Stages star Zoe Vonder Haar plays Louise Seger, a single mother in Houston who loves country music, and Stages newcomer Jacqueline Petroccia plays Louise's favorite singer, Patsy Cline.

Along with a swinging onstage band led by music director Lisa Campbell Albert, Vonder Haar and Petroccia manage to satisfy the appetite of an audience that begs and begs for more.

Written by Ted Swindley and vigorously directed by Michael Hamilton, "Always ..." is based on a true story. When Cline played Houston in 1961, Seger was in the audience. Her dreams came true: She met Cline and helped out during the show. Afterward they went back to Seger's very modest home for a late-night supper of bacon and eggs, pouring out their hearts to each other until the wee hours. In the morning, Seger drove Cline to a radio station interview, then the airport.

They never saw each other again. Still, their friendship blossomed in the many letters they wrote, a correspondence that continued until Cline died in a plane crash about two years later. She was 30.

Petroccia sounds fresh and authentic as she portrays the first country-to-pop crossover artist, singing 27 memorable numbers: "I Fall To Pieces," "Your Cheating Heart," "You Belong To Me," "Sweet Dreams," "Crazy," on and on. She does, indeed, capture Cline's phrasing and emotional contralto style. Petroccia makes each note sound as if it's lined in dark velvet which is how practically nobody else, apart from Cline, has ever made them sound.

She also takes a nice, relaxed approach to a woman who wasn't famous long enough to get used to it. Lounging at her home in Laura Petrie-esque red slacks, red turtleneck and white shirt (one of the many attractive costumes, from cowgirl outfits to cocktail dresses, that Lou Bird designed for her), she writes a letter to Louise. …

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