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Live Patsy Cline music returns to the area

BY JOSIE JONES | OCTOBER 01, 2009 7:20 AM

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This week, Patsy Cline will return to the stage. The Iowa Children’s Museum stage in Coralville, that is. And now, she’s a character in a musical rather than a performing artist.

The City Circle Acting Company of Coralville presents the musical Always, Patsy Cline, which will première Friday night at the Iowa Children’s Museum in the Coral Ridge Mall. The show will continue through Oct. 18 with Friday and Saturday shows beginning at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday shows at 2 p.m. Admission is $17 for adults, $14 for seniors and students.

Always, Patsy Cline is a tribute show to the sparkling but short career of country star Cline. The musical follows the friendship between Cline and fan Louise Seger from the time they met until Cline’s untimely death in a plane crash at the age of 30.

The show, which features 27 songs Cline made popular including “Crazy,” “Walking After Midnight,” and “I Fall to Pieces,” has only two cast members. All of the songs are performed by Marcia Hughes, who plays Cline.

For her, a Cline fan for years, both the hardest and most enjoyable part has been learning the lyrics. Many of the song structures have been changed to fit the show — some have been shortened or mixed with different songs. Her favorite song to perform changes every night.

“When I came into the show, my favorite [Patsy Cline] song was ‘Crazy,’ ” she said. “But in this show, I really like ‘Lovesick Blues,’ because I get to use my yodel, and I very rarely get to use it.”

While Hughes sings every song, she has only 12 non-singing lines. Patti McTaggart, on the other hand, has long monologues in and around the songs to tell the story of Cline and Seger’s friendship. McTaggart does sing as well — the musical has one duet, “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

The show, which lasts approximately two hours, explores the chemistry between Hughes and McTaggart.

“We’re like sisters — can’t you tell?” Hughes said and noted that the two have been in three other productions together. The show is easy for them because they have developed a great friendship over the years.

Cary Beatty, the director of Always, Patsy Cline, said this production is different because it is performed cabaret style. The show is not just set in a Texas bar, he said, but “you are in a Texas honky-tonk.” The audience will act as the guests at the bar and will be served food and drinks.
Beatty says watching theater is sometimes like watching television.

“[The audience has] nothing to do with it,” he said. “But when [the cast] brings the show to the audience members and [makes them] a part of it, it’s a lot more fun.”

The audience members are also introduced to Carolyn Martousek, the opening act of the musical. Martousek, a member of the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, will perform a few country songs as the audience members are finding their seats.

Hughes sang in country bands while in college, and most of what she sang was Cline’s music. She was drawn to the musical because “it was a really great opportunity for me to bring my country singing voice back out,” she said.

Hughes and McTaggart agree that the musical is special because it is a well-written, two-person-cast musical — and that is hard to find.

“[The production] is totally carried by those two characters, which is what always impressed me about this show,” Hughes said. “If you can pull it off, it’s incredibly special for the audience.”


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