Have you heard?
Royalty has come to Meridian … country music royalty, that is. Miss Patsy Cline is once again in town for a week long run at the Meridian Little Theatre in "Always … Patsy Cline."
Angela White brings Patsy to life — vocals, persona, and personality. Close your eyes and you'd swear Cline herself was singing "Walkin' After Midnight," "I Fall to Pieces," "Back in Baby's Arms," "Sweet Dreams," "Crazy," and nearly 30 other Cline standards. White is more than worthy to tackle the richness of Patsy Cline standards.
The audience could see the singer's career progress visually in the many costume changes. She began in a stereotypically fringed, country-western ensemble in bright red, and ended the evening in an elegant cocktail dress, subtly marking Miss Cline's progression from small town Virginian to American music icon.
White captures Patsy's unassuming personality in her onstage interactions with her biggest fan, Louise Seger, played by Sidney Covington; with the band, The Bodacious Bobcats — you'll love her introduction of the band; and most importantly, with the audience itself. She makes you feel you are right there with Patsy Cline in the Esquire Ballroom in the early 1960's. As Louise says, "She was no stranger to us."
White originated this role for MLT seven years ago and we are fortunate that this Quitman native came home for another run. She and her family now live in Georgia where she is an entertainer and recording artist.
hough the play is about Patsy Cline, the story is all Louise's to tell. And boy, oh boy, does Louise tell it. Watching Sidney Covington is never dull. She has wonderfully scripted moments describing how her yellow cowgirl outfit fits her "like a glove" and in relating the night she became Patsy Cline's self-appointed manager.
However, Covington is always best when she goes off road. Her personal choreography can't be beat. She's part Michael Jackson, part Michael Flatley, part Don Knotts. Even Louise's description of her pink Pontiac, Sexy Dude, has a signature dance move. Her funniest coup of the evening came with a comparison of the Esquire Ballroom to a local, present day hot spot of questionable repute. Covington invites the audience into her kitchen for some bacon and eggs as she relates the impact on her life of her unlikely friendship with the legendary Patsy Cline.
Sidney also originated the role of Louise for MLT in 2001. You'll find her onstage daily in her roles as Patient Advocate at Riley Hospital, church pianist, columnist for The Meridian Star, and hundreds of other local venues.
This production very cleverly brings the band out of the orchestra pit and perches them upstage and elevated, adding honky tonk band authenticity. It's a delight to see the faces of the musicians who time and time again make MLT's musicals the wonders that they are. If this band doesn't make your toe tap, your boots are full of lead! Seeing Carey Smith in a cowboy hat is a treat in itself. He directs the band from his post at synthesizer. His bodacious band mates are Wayne McInnis on the piano; Jared Doner on lead guitar; Will Roland on the base; Scott Kratzer on the drums; and Mike Brown on the steel guitar. Part of the fun is watching the band enjoy watching White and Covington.
Director Jimmy Pigford has once again successfully brought Patsy Cline to the stage. He is a Meridian treasure. We are blessed to have him behind the helm of MLT.
If you do not yet have plans to attend Always…Patsy Cline, clear your schedule. This is a must see. Though, as Louise points out, "you don't need a reservation at a honky tonk," you will need a ticket to see this production. Two step over to MLT or call the box office at 601-482-6371 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Louise's said it best, "This ol' country gal sure is a winner."
'Always ... Patsy Cline'
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