Ocean State Theatre Company's first summer musical is "Always...Patsy Cline". This show is based on a true story about the country music legend and the fan she called a friend. The title was inspired by Cline's letters to her friend, Louise Segar which were always signed, "Love Always...Patsy Cline." This is a tribute to the woman who epitomized country music in the late 50's and early 60's. Louise Segar fell in love with Patsy's voice after seeing her perform on "Walkin' After Midnight" on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts in 1957. She followed Cline's career via radio and television and finally met the singer at a Houston concert in 1961. The two became pen pals up until the 1963 plane crash that claimed Cline's life. The musical play, complete with down home country humor and true emotion includes many of Patsy's unforgettable hits, 27 in all, such as "Lonely Days", "I Fall To Pieces", "Sweet Dreams'', "Walking After Midnight" and of course, my personal favorite, "Crazy". Director Amiee Turner weaves this funny, moving tribute to this country movie star wonderfully with the 27 musical numbers connected with a strong storyline. She casts these two stars perfectly a splendid opening to the summer season at Ocean State Theatre Company.
Amiee brings out the best in these two talented gals, Erin McCracken as Patsy and Lulu Lloyd as Louise while music director John C. Brown and his talented band members are an integral part to this show. They are a terrific band. Also impressive are the two backup singers Neil Jeronimo and Barry Periera. Their voices blend in perfect harmony with the gorgeous Erin McCracken who delivers a tour-de-force performance as Patsy Cline. She is onstage almost for the whole show. Some of her best numbers include "You Belong to Me", "Crazy" and "If You Could See the World.I last reviewed Erin as Tracy in "Hairspray" at Theatre by the Sea three years ago. Lulu not only delivers the goods in the comic moments but tugs at your heartstrings at the tender and poignant ones, too. Some comic moments occur when she dances with a man in the audience, conducts the band to make sure the drum doesn't play to fast and the sing a long segment. Most impressive is the gut wrenching scene where Louise tells the audience that Patsy died in a plane crash at the age of 30. There wasn't a dry eye in the audience after this scene. Lulu does a terrific job as the starry eyed fan who becomes a friend and a confidante to Patsy via her pen pal letters. I last reviewed Lulu as Judy in "9 to 5" at Theatre by the Sea in 2012. They both deliver a rousing performance which makes the audience leap to their feet at the end of the show. So for a splendid summer musical treat bringing the audience back to the bygone days of the late 50's and early 60's, be sure to catch "Always...Patsy Cline". It will move you to laughter and tears at all the appropriate moments. Brava!