Patsy Cline met Louise Seger at the Esquire Ballroom in Houston in 1961 when Patsy was traveling alone, and apparently deeply grateful for the company; the acquaintance turned into a friendship (at Patsy's initiative, and to Louise's grateful surprise) for the rest of her life. The framework of "Always … Patsy Cline" is a reminiscence of that friendship, and a bittersweet review of Patsy's bittersweet repertoire through flashbacks of Patsy performing her hits, interspersed with moments from the "pen-pal relationship" of the friends, presumably based on the authentic historic record of that correspondence.
Here's a bit of background on Patsy Cline's career.
The original American Idol success story
Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts featured amateur talents, up and comers some of whom became well-known career professionals. (Simon didn't create the genre, but he knows a good idea when he sees one.) Contestants like Tony Bennett, Lenny Bruce, Marilyn Horne, and Pat Boone received early exposure on the show. (Side note: Godfrey face-palm moment: Elvis didn't make the cut in 1955.) On January 21, 1957 Patsy sang "Walkin' After Midnight" for the Talent Scouts audience on live radio. The audience loved her, and the station was flooded with requests, and her first hit eventually made it to #2 on the country charts.
But she was no newb in the business, she had been working for audience since the middle 40's. She was not afraid to lobby for her own opportunities. In 1947 she asked a disc jockey at WINC-AM if she could sing on the air, and was asked back due to favorable listener response. (She was the only singer ever accepted into the cast of the Grand Ole Opry because she made the request on her own behalf, in 1960.) By 1954 she had a large local radio following, and she and Jimmy Dean shared billing at Town and Country Jamboree radio show out of Arlington, Virginia, WARL-AM.
She didn't like "Walkin' …" that much when she first heard it, thought it was too "pop," and she didn't like "Crazy" much at first, either, when she first heard it in 1961. At a three-hour session, she struggled to sing "Crazy" with Willy Nelson's phrasing from the demo. They had captured the back-up band successfully, and Patsy came back a week later, more recovered from ribs that were injured in the recent auto accident, and approached the song following advice to "sing it like Patsy, not like Willy," and she nailed the version everyone knows and loves. "I Fall to Pieces" had made the charts in 1961, her second crossover hit, after "Walkin' …". "Crazy," her third and biggest hit, became her signature song.
Patsy's story has a well-known (amongst fans at any rate) spooky side. Her career was haunted by car and plane accidents; she was in two car accidents, almost died in the first one, which left her forehead scarred so she wore makeup and headbands and hairstyles to hide it when she was performing. Patsy died in a plane crash in bad weather, piloted by someone not certified in flying by instruments, within ninety miles of their destination. A movie version depicts the plane bursting into a fireball crashing into the side of a mountain, but the plane actually nose-dived into the forest in Camden, near Nashville, where it was headed.
Jim Reeves died in a plane crash a year later. Jim Reeves and Patsy never actually recorded together, but existing tracks were mashed up and massaged into consonant pitch and tempo to create two duet tracks by audio engineering magic in 1982. They were released on two different albums, Greatest Hits, Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline featuring a majority of Jim's solo tracks with the duet version of "Have You Ever Been Lonely?," and the other, Remembering Patsy Cline and Jim Reeves, included the duet version of "I Fall to Pieces" with a majority of Patsy's solo tracks.
Several other people close to her personally and professionally suffered fatal accidents; one who was with Patsy when she insisted the driver of the vehicle receive medical attention first, made the same insistence when she herself was involved in an accident later, a decision which may have contributed to her death at the scene.
In 1962 Patsy felt her days were numbered, according to testimony from Dottie West, June Carter Cash, and Loretta Lynn (whom Patsy had taken under her wing as a protege). Recording her fourth album, with the working title "Faded Love," including Berlin's "Always" with strings and no recognizable country elements, she was breaking new stylistic ground, and one can only speculate what she might have achieved. (A compilation album with the title Faded Love was eventually released in 1988.) An incident is often cited as evidence of her premonition. Her emotion is raw and genuine in the tracks; she cried through most of the final sessions. A month before the fatal crash, Patsy held up her first record, and a copy of the latest recordings, and said, "Well, here it is … the first and the last."
ALWAYS, PATSY CLINE - Performance Schedule:
Friday, March 8 - Dinner 6:30, Show 8:00 PM
Saturday, March 9 - Dinner 6:15, Show 7:30 PM
Friday, March 15 - Dinner 6:30, Show 8:00 PM
Saturday, March 16 - Dinner 6:15, Show 7:30 PM
Sunday, March 17 - Brunch 12:45, Show 2:00 PM
Friday, March 22 - Dinner 6:30, Show 8:00 PM
Saturday, March 23 - Dinner 6:15, Show 7:30 PM
Sunday, March 24 - Brunch 12:45, Show 2:00 PM
Friday, March 29 - Dinner 6:30, Show 8:00 PM
Saturday, March 30 - Dinner 6:15, Show 7:30 PM
Friday, April 5 - Dinner 6:30, Show 8:00 PM
Saturday, April 6 - Dinner 6:15, Show 7:30 PM
Friday, April 12 - Dinner 6:30, Show 8:00 PM
Saturday, April 13 - Dinner 6:15, Show 7:30 PM
Ticket Prices for ALWAYS PATSY CLINE:
Dinner and Show $41.95
Brunch and Show $36.95
Prime Reserved Seats $27.00
Reserved Seats $24.00
Matinee Prime Reserved Seats $24.00
Matinee Reserved Seats $21.00
Restricted View Seats $16.00
Dinner includes soup or salad, bread, your choice of entree and a non-alcoholic beverage. Beer, wine and spirits as well as dessert are also available. Do you have special dietary needs? Let us know in advance and chef Scott will do his best to make your dinner at Actors Cabaret easy to digest! Call the box office at 541-683-4368 with any questions.
Get your tickets to ALWAYS, PATSY CLINE by calling the box office at 541-683-4368 or go online to www.actorscabaret.org, or visit us in person from 11:00-3:00 Tuesday through Saturday!