Theater Review: Always...Patsy Cline
By Livia Peterson
The country and non country music fans alike are bound to enjoy the final 2017-2018 Milwaukee Rep's Stackner Cabaret production, Ted Swindley's Always...Patsy Cline. A simple and elegant music revue of Cline's hits that boasts infectious energy throughout the theater. Attempt not to dance in the seat and guaranteed one will fail to no avail. Ultimately, the show honors Ms. Cline with dignity.
The housewife Louise Seger (Tami Workentin) enjoys listening to the radio and yet, stumbles upon Patsy Cline's (Kelley Faulkner) music and instantly falls in love. Seger requests to play Cline's tunes to the radio station numerous times; however, she attends a concert one evening and quickly establishes a rare friendship with the star. Cline and Seger eventually become pen pals and the lifetime friendship is never forgotten. With that said, the production is akin to the live concert than the coherent narrative performed on the stage.
Christina Hall was the understudy for Ms. Faulkner during the performance I attended and alas, the faults were evident as ever. The most faults I've witnessed ever in a Milwaukee Rep production. Only two wardrobe changes and Ms. Hall required the reference sheet during one song. Even worse, the chemistry among Ms. Hall and Ms. Workentin is contrived several times during the show. The Rep should've anticipated some sick days and completely organized the Patsy Cline understudy. The Emerging Professional Resident (intern) Kim Giddens is the understudy for Ms. Workentin to put it into context.
On the one hand, Ms. Hall missed several nuances, but managed to crank out a few during the two hour duration. On the other hand, Ms. Workentin provides the brilliantly energetic performance with amazing audience interaction.
From the lovely scenic design to the complementary live musicians, the show will touch the soul, as theater always accomplishes. Despite the understudy flaws, Always...Patsy Cline is not to be missed. I'm crazy for you. A-
Always...Patsy Cline runs now through Sunday, May 20, 2018.
Milwaukee Repertory Theater│Stackner Cabaret
108 East Wells Street, Milwaukee WI 53202