It’s a triumphant reopening for the Gem Theatre
By Thom deMartino
The tide of life flows forever forward: but despite its many trials and tragedies, it is our treasured memories that linger on, that provide us happiness and solace in the quiet moments.
It has indeed been a very long year, as much for the One More Productions family at the Gem Theater in Garden Grove as for anyone else: but as a slow return to something resembling normalcy settles in, they have raised the curtain once more on a beloved fan-favorite: “Always, Patsy Cline.”
From the instant Louise Seger (Dee Shandera) first heard the dulcet tones of Miss Patsy Cline (Nicole Cassesso), a little-known but up-and-coming country music diva on the radio in the late 1950’s, she instantly felt a kinship with the singer: becoming endlessly enamored of her music, and how it spoke to her — to the point of haranguing the local disc jockey to practically put Patsy’s songs on heavy rotation just for her.
But a few years later, when Louise learns her idol will be playing at a local Texas honky tonk, she packs her boyfriend, her boss and his wife into her pink and black Pontiac (which she affectionately refers to as her “Sexy Dude”) to head to the show – hours early, much to her boyfriend’s chagrin.
Once Patsy arrives, however, Louise is star-struck: and after the performance, she dares to strike up a conversation with the starlet, who is thrilled to meet such a down-to-earth fan, even joining the group at their table … and as things wind down at the venue, the pair trundle back in the “Sexy Dude” to Louise’s house for some bacon and eggs, and to continue their heart-to-heart into the wee hours of the night.
It’s this special, heart-warming encounter that means the world to Louise … and to Patsy as well, as the pair develop a beautiful friendship, as well as a robust correspondence for years to come.
“Always, Patsy Cline” is a story of a remarkable and unlikely friendship: but as much as it’s the retelling of a true-life story, full of comedy and tragedy, it’s really about the music that moved Louise, as well as so many other fans … and of course, Cassesso inhabits the role of Patsy sublimely.
With moving classics like “Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces” and “Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray,” to the frenetic energy of “Stupid Cupid” – where she introduces the behind-the-scenes (but vital) stars of the show, “The Bodacious Bobcats Band,” portrayed by Richard Abraham on piano, Mike Khalil on steel guitar, Jacob Gonzalez on guitar, James Beall on bass, Rebecca Lynn on fiddle, and Jeff Segal on drums (with an amazing solo!) – the combination of Cassesso’s incredible vocal talents and the band make for a stunning performance the audience won’t soon forget… and may well need to see again.
From Shandera’s comedic timing and quick wit, to Cassesso’s range from moody, bluesy delivery to her unmistakable, room-quaking laugh (“Ha-HA!), “Always, Patsy Cline” is not only a celebration of the life and songs of an amazing musical icon, but of the special, treasured friendship between two women who became so much more than just star and fan.
“Always, Patsy Cline”, Nicole Cassesso, Dee Shandera (and the “Bodacious Bobcats Band”) star in this dramatization of the special friendship that sprang between a country music fan and her idol. Playing for a special limited engagement from April 22 through May 16 at The Gem Theater, 12852 Main Street, Garden Grove, CA, 92840. Call 714-741-9550 x221 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for ticketing information.
Categories: Arts & Leisure