Everyone has heard the name Patsy Cline.
Even if you only know a couple of her biggest hits, there is no denying the staying power of this iconic country singer.
A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline serves as a touching tribute to this Virginian powerhouse, a ‘hometown girl who’s done us proud,’ and the impact she had during her rise to the top.
The small cast of seven does well to capture the time period.
OK, I admit, I was long from born before Patsy ever became famous or was taken from this world in a plane crash, but the cast did well to capture what I imagine the time was like.
Country music fans demanded a purity and honesty from their music. They wanted something they could relate to, even if a lot of it was about heartbreak.
When Patsy finally had her big break, the world seemed ready to embrace her. And her career would pave the way for all other female country music artists, from Faith Hill to Taylor Swift.
And it was a time when the only thing bigger than the music, were the personalities.
Sara-Jeanne Hosie does a great service to the Cline legacy.
Barely recognizable from when I met her a few days before opening night, Hosie does well to capture Patsy’s deep heart and deeper tones.
And Andrew Legg as Little Big Man and a comedian helped add an honest humour, and gravity, to the production when needed.
While the costume designer is able to wonderfully show us the evolution of Patsy, from red-and-white tasseled country dress to a shimmering black cocktail dress, Hosie is as equally skilled in showing how Patsy was able to keep her down-home sincerity and originality.
Going into the production, again, Hosie knew she had big shoes to fill.
Not a fan of impersonations, Hosie said she had to get to the heart of Patsy’s songs and lyrics to find out what they meant before performing them.
“I find with impersonations, they can be hollow,” said Hosie in the reception area of the Chemainus Theatre Festival, fresh off the boat from the mainland.
“She has these cries and these cracks in her voice that made her so distinct.”
Hosie said this has been a rewarding role as she is a big fan of Patsy and has had the chance to portray her in other productions.
The Victoria-native couldn’t speak more highly of the five-piece local band.
“I love coming and singing with this band.”
Singing comes naturally to Hosie who is also a singer/songwriter who spend much of her time in musical theatre.
While she is a fan of all music, Hosie said playing Patsy is her first foray into country music and can still appreciate her significance to women in the performing arts. She hopes the show will help create some more fans.
Hosie said she marvels at the fact Patsy accomplished so much in such a small window and glad she is kept alive through show like A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline.
Out of all the songs she sings during the two-hour performance, She’s Got You quickly springs to the top when asked for her favourite Patsy tune to sing.
“I love the melody of the song and where it goes. It has a real journey from beginning to end.”
The stage at the Chemainus Theatre Festival also has a big job of trying to mimic some of the biggest stages in the world as the audience is taken from the Grand Ole Opry to Carnengie Hall and a small radio booth.
A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline is a welcome treat for theatre fans and a must for country music fans.
And if you are attending the buffet beforehand, you’d be well advised to bring some stretchy pants.
For more information, visit www.chemainustheatrefestival.ca.