Jenny Lee Stern masterfully channels Patsy Cline

Jenny Lee Stern as Patsy Cline.

By Margie Royal

Chances are if you are a fan of Patsy Cline’s music, you’ve already seen Ted Swindley’s musical play, “Always, Patsy Cline,” which features songs made famous by the country singer who died in a plane crash in 1963 at the age of 30. The musical play celebrates the life of the legendary singer through the eyes of one her earliest fans, Louise Seger. The show is based on the true friendship that developed between the star and Louise, who met in a Texas bar in 1961.

Louise is a plum role for an actress as the character is colorful, funny, big-hearted, and endearing. Media Theatre has chosen to stage what I’d call a concert version of the show and have the part of Louise read by local celebrities. On opening weekend, WMGK Classic Rock Radio’s Debbi Calton, read the part of Louise, sitting at a 1960s table at one side of the stage. On the other side of the stage are the musicians that perform as Patsy’s band: Ben Kapilow on keyboards, Spiff Weingad on fiddle, steel guitar and electric guitar, Lee Morrison on drums and Nate Clapinson on bass. Slide projections at the back of the stage show scenes from the early 1960s and help set the locations of the story.

The live band is terrific and so is Jenny Lee Stern, whose voice and stage presence brings Patsy Cline the singer wonderfully to life. Her renditions of Cline’s hits You Belong to Me, Crazy, I Fall to Pieces, Sweet Dreams and Walking After Midnight are excellent. I also loved her heartfelt rendition of the traditional spiritual hymn Just a Closer Walk.

Although Media’s production of “Always, Patsy Cline,” won’t give you the full impact of the show’s humanity and endearing charm as the show would if the part of Louise was performed and not read, there’s still much to enjoy in this production. Sitting in the air conditioned cool listening to the band and Jenny Lee Stern channel Patsy Cline and perform the songs that were part of Cline’s cannon make for a very pleasant way to spend a hot summer evening.
Performances continue through July 2 Thursday nights at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm.

If you go, here’s who will be reading the part of Louise:

  • June 22-25 – FOX-TV’s Sue Serio
  • June 29 – Actress Susan Wefel
  • June 30-July 2 – QVC’s Jane Treacy.
    For tickets, call The Media Theatre at 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org.