“Always … Patsy Cline” returns to Whitefish stage

Encore tribute to the gutsy country singer is July 27-30 and Aug. 3-6 at the O’Shaughnessy Center

On Stage

“Always … Patsy Cline” returns to Whitefish Theatre Company’s stage for a summer encore performance. Performances are 8 p.m. July 27-30 and Aug. 3-6 at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish. The iconoclastically gutsy country music singer Patsy Cline, known for her warmth, wildness, and vast emotional reservoir of a voice, is a timeless treasure with enduring songs like “Crazy,” “Walking After Midnight,” “Your Cheating Heart,” “I Fall to Pieces,” and “Back in Baby’s Arms.”

More than just a tribute to the legendary artist, this musical, based on a true story, recounts Cline’s friendship with a fan from Houston, Louise Seger, an ordinary divorcee with two small children. Patsy befriended Louise at a Texas honky-tonk in 1961 and the two remained pen pals until Cline’s untimely death at the age of 30 in a 1963 plane crash.

The title comes from the closing in all of Patsy’s letters to Louise – “Love always, Patsy Cline.” With humor and true emotion, the show highlights the tender friendship and rare camaraderie between Cline and Seger, building upon one woman’s heart-aching songs of lost love and loneliness coming through the radio waves to another woman’s heart-worn soul. Cline meant something different to her original fans, like Seger, who came to realize “it isn’t just the music that’s lovely, it’s also the singer” (Austin Chronicle).

With seeming ease, Amanda Duff Caldwell, starring as Patsy, has the vocal chords to revive the iconic country legend with style. “Always” packs 23 songs into two hours – a real testament to Caldwell’s voice, which reproduces Cline’s sultry stylings and gestures to the delight of the cabaret audience, who are apt to feel they’ve stepped back 50 years and are sitting at a Patsy Cline concert.

Merge this with the fast-talking, boisterous, and ballsy narrative of Louise Seger, played by Scarlett Schindler, and the original staging produced by veteran director Nancy Nei, and you’ve got “a joyful lovefest,” says Nei. “It’s a family reunion where everyone – cast and crew, band, backup singers, director, and audiences – are truly happy to be there.”

Adds Nei, “We are fortunate that nearly 100 percent of the Patsy ‘tribe’ is returning.” The band, The Bodacious Bobcats, includes director Karla West, Dave Griffith, Connie Rudie, Andrew Campbell and Ed Hull, along with backup singers Rava Graves, Joey Retz, Sandy Matheny, and Lisa Calloway.

A nostalgic night of theatre is also brought to life with authentic vintage costumes by Lonnie Porro, technical direction by Robbie Moody, and stage managing by Kellie Hoffman.

Tickets are $25 for reserved table or mezzanine seating with food and wine available for purchase. Call the box office at 406-862-5371 or purchase tickets online at www.whitefishtheatreco.org.