A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline
By Dean Regan
Produced in association with Western Canada Theatre, Kamloops, BC
Directed by Daryl Cloran
1000 Islands Playhouse
I’m not sure what to say about “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline” by Dan Regan, except that it’s not really a musical. It’s more a terrific concert or night club act. Loosely structured as a radio show tribute to Patsy Cline, it’s emceed by Little Big Man, played by the energetic and versatile Tyler Murree. We see Patsy, the excellent Alison MacDonald, only in performance, never in her off-stage persona. A few sparse biographical details are supplied by Little Big Man. Entertaining diversions are added by the insertion of old radio commercials for Mr. Clean and Ajax, performed by Little Big Man and the great on-stage band.
Ross Nichol’s versatile set has a raised broadcast booth stage right, the 4-piece band is on raised platforms center, and the whole framed stage left by two dimensional giant radios. There’s a scrim up center on which are projected the names of the various venues where Patsy performs. Of Patsy’s multiple costumes by Jayne Christopher, by far the most flattering is the Act II long black gown. Davida Tkach’s lighting is good and Ben Malone’s sound is excellent and well balanced.
Musical Director David Archibald has put together a swinging band with Bob Arlidge on bass, Dan Charbonneau on guitar, Duncan Holt on percussion and himself on piano, guitar, and banjo. They also sing the back-up vocals. One of the highlights of Act II is the silly and fun version of “Little Brown Jug” the band does with the MC.
Director Daryl Cloran has done a nice job with the staging, finding variety in what could have been rather static. Alison MacDonald has a terrific voice and performs Patsy Cline’s many hits with emotion and assurance.
“A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline” isn’t a musical, but rather a narrated concert. However, if you like Patsy Cline songs, a great band, and some good laughs, you’ll have a wonderful time. The audience at the performance I attended certainly did.
“A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline” produced by 1000 Islands Playhouse – through June 11
Patsy Cline – Alison MacDonald
Little Big Man – Tyler Murree
Musical Director – David Archibald
Set Designer – Ross Nichol
Costume Designer – Jayne Christopher
Lighting Designer – Davida Tkach
Sound Designer-Ben Malone
David Archibald – piano/guitar/banjo
Bob Arlidge – bass
Dan Charbonneau – guitar
Duncan Holt – percussion