Always...Patsy Cline is

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By Ken Begley



The other day Mrs. Ann Faye Sallee, my daughter Jenny's unofficial godmother, stopped by the Springfield State Bank's branch out there on Bardstown Road to see Cindy. She told Cindy that we ought to go see "Always Patsy Cline" playing down at the Opera House. Ann Faye is a devoted follower of the Central Kentucky Community Theatre and said this play is the absolute best they have ever done.

Well, when Mrs. Sallee talks, I listen and obey. Only my mother and father have more sway, just a little, over me than Ann Faye.

Therefore, Cindy and I went to the play last Sunday

If you are a country music fan and love to laugh then you're not going to want to miss this. "Always Patsy Cline" is one of the all time top 10 produced plays in America.

The show is based on the true story of Patsy Cline's (Catharine Ball) friendship with Houston homemaker Louise Seger (Lucinda Effner). It seems that Louise first heard of Patsy on the "Arthur Godfrey Show" in 1957. She became a lifelong fan of Cline's and hounded the local disc jockey to play Patsy's records on the radio.

Patsy was giving a show in 1961 in Houston, Texas. Louise and some friends arrived about an hour-and-a-half early and met her by accident as she arrived for the show. The chance meeting ended up with Patsy spending the night at Louise's house. The two women chatted over a pot of coffee about their lives.   This strange connection of the homemaker and country music star somehow struck a common nerve. They exchanged addresses and telephone numbers but Louise never expected to hear from Patsy again. 

But that wasn't the case. 

She soon received the first of many letters and phone calls from Patsy. The pen-pal relationship provides much of the plot of the show about a friendship that lasted until Patsy's premature death in a plane crash in 1963.

Louise narrates the play while Patsy floats in and out of the set singing tunes that made her famous - Anytime, Walkin' After Midnight, She's Got You, Sweet Dreams, and Crazy - to name a few of the 27 songs that are sung.

Lucinda Effner is an absolute "hoot" as a longtime star-struck fan meeting her idle for the first time. I swear Lucinda works the audience into the play and it results in so many genuine laugh- out-loud moments with her country "good old girl" act that I lost track of the time. 

You know, comedy is hard work. But Lucinda as Louise is hysterical. 

She can get more laughs with a wink, a smile, a sideways glance or the quick shake of her hips in five minutes than the rest of us can with a year's worth of storytelling.  

All that humor is balanced out with Catharine Ball's Patsy Cline. 

I've written about Catharine several times before in different roles over the years. We've watched her grow from a grade school girl playing comedy roles in plays like "Nunsense" to the beautiful young woman that she is today.

But, the truth is her singing is even more beautiful than she is pretty, which is hard to believe.

I love Patsy Cline and she proceeds to nail 27 of her songs in the course of the two-hour play. 

That's amazing.

Finally, an ad-hoc live country band was put together for the play. 

Nevertheless, they were anything but ad-hoc and sounded like they had played together for years. The band includes Piano-Higo Rodrigues, Steel Guitar-Todd Nally, Drums-Louis Kelly/Clay Stevens, Bass-Curt Sissom, and Guitar-Eric Greenwell. 

When you put the side-slitting comedy, great vocals, and superb band together, you come away with a hands-down winner that to date some 1,200 folks have already seen over eight mostly sold out previous performances in the past two weeks. 

There are four showings left this week.

Don't miss this or you will go "Crazy."

(Writer's note: "Always Patsy Cline" will play at the Opera House at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 16, 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday Aug. 17-18 and 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 19. Tickets are available one hour before show time at the Opera House doors. Seating is available 30 minutes before curtain. Convenient parking is located on Main Street and behind the Opera House in downtown Springfield. Other ticketing agents include the Springfield State Bank, the Opera House, the Farmer's National Bank of Lebanon, online at http://www.centralkytheatre.com, or call (859) 336-5412, ext. 4.)