Arts & Leisure

Don’t have to like country to love “Patsy”

NICOLE CASSESSO stars in “Always, Patsy Cline” at the Gem Theater in Garden Grove (OMP photo).

By Thom deMartino

They say you should never meet your idols – but this was the exception to the rule.

In “Always, Patsy Cline,” based off true-life events, we are introduced to the late 1950’s and Louise Seger (Dee Shandera), a woman smitten with the music of the then up-and-coming country music star Patsy Cline (Nicole Cassesso), to the point that she’s driving the local radio disc jockey crazy (no pun intended) with her constant requests to hear her favorite song by the singer.

When Louise finds out that her favorite artist of all time will be coming to a local honky-tonk, she’s beside herself: even more-so when she finds herself in the presence of the fiery, charming and gregarious star, who takes a shine to her: and the pair strike up a friendship over drinks and ballads. It’s a night of songs and laughter, and the foundation of a very touching and personal relationship between the two, one that continues years after with their correspondence by mail … and every time Louise gets a letter from her friend and idol, it’s always signed “Love Always, Patsy Cline.”

Featuring more than 25 songs by the beloved artist, there’s something for everyone in this production, even those who aren’t necessarily country music fans. Over the course of the show, the audience is not merely just witness, but participant, as Louise and Patsy address and interact with them, encourage singing along, even pull out a spectator or two to cut a rug to Patsy’s crooning.

The show is back by popular demand after a successful run last season: in fact, the only show for One More Productions to be brought back by fans’ requests. And for good reason: not only is Cassesso’s Cline captivating both in presence and her vocals, the comic timing between her and Shandera’s Louise is impeccable and hysterical.

It should be noted, that while this is essentially a two-woman show, the contribution by the back-up band, “The Bodacious Bobcats Band,” cannot be overstated: while Cassesso’s vocals are the driving force, the liveliness, fun and talents of the band help transform the show into an experience — an audience fortunate enough to be privy to this slice-of-life moment for Louise, that shows a very human side to a beloved American icon.

Whether country music fan or not, “Always, Patsy Cline” has something for everyone, and may just give you a new appreciation for a true American idol.

“Always, Patsy Cline.” Nicole Cassesso and Dee Shandera star in this dramatization of the true-life and touching story of friendship between idol and fan. Playing for a special limited engagement from Mar. 3 – Mar. 19 at The Gem Theater, 12852 Main Street, Garden Grove, CA, 92840. Call 714-741-9550 x221 or e-mail for ticketing information.


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