Always...Patsy Cline | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Always...Patsy Cline

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ALWAYS...PATSY CLINE, Apollo Theater Center. This commercial transfer of a 1996 hit has lost a lot of the warmth that made the show so appealing at Northlight Theatre. Originally a gentle celebration of female friendship grounded in the musical and emotional values shared by country-music star Patsy Cline and her fan-turned-confidant Louise Seger, the show now has the slick, forced feel of a TV variety show: Hollis Resnik's Patsy comes off as a singing talk-show host, and Sarah Underwood's Louise less Patsy's friend than her sidekick. Resnik is a fine singing actor, but she lacks the affinity for Cline's music that veteran folkie Megon McDonough conveyed in the earlier Northlight production. Resnik's twangy accent is too studied, her delivery of the songs too theatrical, and her way of playing reactions straight to the audience too showbiz to convince us that Patsy was just a good ol' country gal who happened to have a great voice.

The songs themselves (including "I Fall to Pieces," "Walkin' After Midnight," "Your Cheatin' Heart," and a creamy, lyrical rendition of "Crazy") are great, and the true-life story of Patsy and Louise's brief relationship, cut short by the singer's death in 1963 at age 30, has undeniable appeal. Still, a certain coarse pushiness has crept into the show--perhaps in part the result of playing to an audience that brings drinks from the lobby bar into the theater.

--Albert Williams

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