Emmi Veinbergs and Sonja Marquis create a magical evening of Patsy Cline at the Encore Musical Theatre Company’s “Always…Patsy Cline”. Buy your tickets this minute, then come back and read the review. Seriously. Just buy them right now, I’ll wait: theencoretheatre.org…Okay, have your tickets? Read on…
You know all about Patsy right? Oh, you don’t? Her country rock flame glowed brightly for her short career (she was killed in a plane crash at the age of 30) and is considered one of the leading female vocal performers of our times. “Crazy”, “Sweet Dreams” and “I Fall to Pieces” are only a few of the songs that you might be familiar with (there are 27 of them in this 90-minutes-plus intermission musical). You might have seen one of the biopics about her — usually filled with histrionics. You won’t find that in Ted Swindley’s musical, which wisely eschews the histrionics for a simpler girl-power storyline of a friendship between housewife Louise Seger and Patsy Cline that started one evening in a honkytonk and led to several years of letters back and forth between the two. Oh, you get that requisite sad moment at the end, but it lasts all of 7 seconds before the music is back and you’re clapping along.
Emmi Veinbergs is stellar as Patsy. Her voice is clear, pitch-perfect, and while evoking Patsy’s sound, she maintains her own vocal style and it is lovely. Also wonderful is Sonja Marquis’s Louise — another role in Sonja’s quickly growing repertoire of hilarious strong women.
Director Thalia V. Schramm keeps the production moving at a fast pace, but isn’t afraid to let us take a peek at quieter moments as well. Credit also goes to the superb on-stage band: Music Director (great work) Dan Mikat on piano, David Shann on violin, Billy Harrington on drums, Brent Marvin on bass, and Roger John Silvi on guitar. They sound phenomenal. In general, the sound design by Chris Goosman is the best I’ve heard at an Encore production. Great work is also turned in by costumer Sharon Larkey Urick, whose color palette for the evening is lovely. The set design by Kristen Gribbin is excellent, and Anne Donevan’s props are terrific (and sometimes very funny) as they evoke the early 1960’s era.
Don’t like country music? Well, get over it and come see what early country-pop music sounded like. After all, Patsy is in Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, among the 40 Greatest Women of Country Music, and number eleven on the list of 100 Greatest Women in Rock and Roll. And an evening at the Encore will remind you why that is.
I can’t point to a single thing in this production that you’ll find lacking, except maybe you might be wanting one more song at evening’s end. And that is a fine fine way to leave the theatre.
“Always…Patsy Cline” continues at the Encore Musical Theatre Company through May 8th. Tickets at theencoretheatre.org or by calling 734-268-6200.
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