On Stage

Friends Forever

When Patsy met Louise

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

When it comes to Always…Patsy Cline, the numbers are eye-opening.

For example, the play is celebrating its 30th year in production, and when performer and producer Ria Peth Vanderpool and actress Kelly Visten reprise their respective roles as iconic country musician Patsy Cline and her friend and fan Louise Seger, it’ll be their fourth time doing so—and their third round of what will likely be sold-out performances at the Conway Muse.

Additionally, a whopping 27 of Cline’s hit-making songs will be part of the shows taking place Fridays and Saturdays through April at the Bard Loft. Vanderpool has some favorites—“I Fall to Pieces” and “You Belong to Me” are among them—but notes all are a pleasure to sing, especially with assistance of the talented country band that plays along.

While Always…Patsy Cline does focus a lot on the music, it’s also a love story of sorts. The plot zeroes in on the true-life tale of Cline and Seger’s friendship, which was forged in a Texas honky-tonk in 1961 and continued via long letters and phone calls until Cline’s untimely death at the age of 30 a couple of years later in a horrific plane crash.

Much like Cline and Seger, Vanderpool and Visten are tight in real life, making their popular performances all the more realistic.

“It’s such a blessing to be able to work on a professional level with such a close friend,” Vanderpool says of the long and continuing collaboration. “Our friendship in real life crosses over to our characters on stage, and I think people can feel that.”

If you’ve seen the show before at the award-winning Conway Muse, Vanderpool says to expect a couple of differences. As Seger, Visten is singing more in this rendition, and harmonies have been added to some of the songs to showcase her lovely voice. Additionally, there will also be a photo tribute to Cline.

While you’re settling in with a beer in the loft of an old barn and pretending you’re in a Texas honky-tonk, be on the lookout for messages that relate to but also transcend Patsy Cline’s timeless tunes—whether it’s ties that bind, living for the moment, or being there for your loved ones.

For her part, Vanderpool sees an overriding theme of how one woman changed many lives.

“Her music brought joy to so many people, to Louise, and the friendship and bond that they formed,” she says. “So many people come to the show and afterward share stories with us about their memories of her music, when they were little, and how their parents loved her music. It’s very touching.”

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