An unlikely but affectionate friendship takes center stage in "Always ... Patsy Cline" at The Phipps.
The show follows the connection between country music star Patsy Cline and her fan Louise Seger, detailing their first meeting at one of Cline's concerts in Texas.
The two develop an instant connection from their first interaction, and the play sees that spark unfold over the 24 hours into a close friendship that is later sustained over the distance of Cline's career through a regular pen pal correspondence.
Jaclyn Mack and Rose Johnson bring Cline and Seger to life. Mack fills the large shoes of her legendary character, bringing a beautiful, powerful voice along with that country twang to Cline's classic songs.
Johnson supplies big personality and an equal measure of laughs to the performance as Seger — a Texas mom and bigtime Cline fan. As the narrator of the story, Johnson pulls the audience in o the adventure with her, recounting her relationship with Cline to the audience directly. Those watching get to share in the excitement Seger feels at first meeting Cline, and the intimacy that develops as the two women get closer.
The play features several pieces of audience interaction that furthers this connection. Cline sings to those in The Phipps' seats, bowing to their applause and introducing them to her band, and her new friend Seger. Seger takes it a few steps further, prompting applause, asking for questions that need an answer, and pulling the audience into a sing-along and a lucky member into a dance.
Aside from the Bodacious Bobcats band behind them, the two women hold the stage on their own, and hold it well. Johnson and Seger have a natural chemistry that brings humor and heart to the performance.
Seger is hilarious in a way that anyone who's ever had a celebrity idol can relate to. But that intense fan adoration quickly transforms into a deep, relatable friendship. In a night of music and bacon and eggs, and then years of correspondence, the women share stories of success, love, fights and heartbreak. The audience is allowed into this close relationship. The laughs Cline and Seger bring are real, and the pain is raw.
All of it is set to Cline's songs, including "Crazy," "Walkin' After Midnight," and "She's Got You." Feet will be tapping throughout the performance — it can't be helped.
"Always ... Patsy Cline" runs through Sunday, July 29 with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.