Always … Patsy Cline: On Stage In Visalia

Jan 18, 2012 | 2012 Articles, Arts & Entertainment, Theatre

by Nancy Holley

Special KRL coupon for this show at the end of this article

Patsy Cline burst onto the musical scene in 1956 at age 24 with “Walkin’ After Midnight”. “Walkin’ After Midnight” made history as it crossed over to score on both the country and pop charts. In the spring of 1963, when Patsy was just 30 years old, her skyrocketing career ended with a tragic plane crash. In six short years, her numerous accomplishments included performing at Carnegie Hall (unheard of for country singers and in particular a woman) and headlining her own show in Las Vegas (another first for a woman country singer).

Sylvia Garoian as Patsy Cline

Always … Patsy Cline, one of only two plays about Patsy’s life approved for production by the Patsy Cline Estate, is based on a true story. In 1961, Patsy was scheduled to perform at The Esquire Ballroom in Houston. Living nearby was one of Patsy’s most ardent fans, Louise Seger. Louise, determined to get a good table for the show, insisted on arriving early. This fortuitous decision resulted in Louise meeting Patsy. Their chance meeting led to a personal encounter of slightly less than 24 hours, but a friendship via letters and phone calls that lasted until Patsy’s death.

Director Leeni Mitchell grew to love and admire Patsy Cline as she researched Patsy’s life to uncover the nuances that make the Visalia Players’ production of Always … Patsy Cline special. Mitchell discovered that Patsy was by habit a prolific letter writer, but believes that the connection between Louise and Patsy was unique and powerful. A chance encounter brought them together, but a kindred spirit kept their association alive and vibrant.

Veteran actors Sylvia Garoian (Patsy Cline) and Susan Mathews (Louise), with joy and enthusiasm, bring to the stage the songs of Patsy and the shared, supportive relationship between Patsy and Louise. Garoian finds it “fabulous to play a famous singer. I never thought it would be Patsy Cline, but it is a dream come true.” As Garoian learned more about Patsy through reading her biography, she found “we are a lot alike. So much about her I saw in myself.” Since Patsy was a people person, Garoian finds nothing unusual about her immediately connecting with Louise, joining Louise’s group at The Esquire Ballroom, and later going to Louise’s home.

Sylvia Garoian (Patsy Cline) and Susan Mathews (Louise)

Mathews describes Louise “as a Mississippi girl who is flirtatious to get what she wants. Louise has fallen in love with Patsy’s voice and when she actually meets her, she is in awe. Louise cannot believe that a famous person would be interested in her. She cherishes her contact with Patsy as the sister she never had. ” Mathews emphasizes that Always … Patsy Cline is a musical comedy that brings joy to the soul.

“Anyone who loves Patsy Cline should see this show,” says Garoian, “With 27 songs, your favorites are bound to be covered.” On the other hand, “if you don’t know the story, you will be fascinated to learn about her life and how she really felt about her number one songs.”

Mitchell is thrilled to have five talented musicians and an excellent musical director, B. J. Barlow, supporting her actors. The musicians include veterans of Ice House musicals: Cindy Jungwirth, Churchill Cooke, and Gary Benjamin along with newcomers. Although new to the Ice House, Lon Hannah of the Sons of the San Joaquin is well known in the area. Completing the musical accompaniment is Megan Barlow, who was recently seen as Donna in A Taffeta Wedding.

Always … Patsy Cline, opens at the Ice House Theater at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 27, 2012 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 1/27, 1/28, 2/3, 2/4, 2/10, and 2/11 and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 1/29, 2/5, and 2/12.

For more information about the Visalia Community Players, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.

Print this page and take to the show to get discount:

Visalia Community Players Two-For-One Coupon
Always … Patsy Cline
By Ted Swindley
Admit 2 Adults for $12.00
Coupon good for any performance of the play.
One Coupon Per Family
Reservations Suggested – 559-734-3900

Watch for a new Local Live every Wednesday evening at 7!

Nancy Holley has been involved with the Visalia Community Players off and on since the 1970’s, both as a director and actor. In July, she retired from 25 years as a software consultant and has since then expanded her role at the Players and is now Vice President of the Board, and on the perusal committee.

1 Comment

  1. I love Patsy Cline!!! What a great sounding show!!! Too bad I live so far away, NYC, or I’d be there tonight (or tomorrow)!! Great article!!!


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