Patrons will shake, rattle and roll with music, laughter and a few tears as Ogunquit Playhouse celebrates the opening of their 80th summer season with the musical, Always... Patsy Cline, starring Broadway's Carter Calvert (as Patsy Cline) and TV, stage and film star, Sally Struthers (as her friend Louise Segar).
Having never seen this show, I had no idea what to expect. What I got was two dynamite performers who explode onto the stage and take you on a country-coaster ride that is the perfect pre-summer production.
Carter Calvert doesn't just sing Patsy Cline, she is Patsy Cline. From her look, sound and stance, Calvert effortlessly embodies all that Cline was before her tragic plane crash in 1963. Calvert's voice is musical magic as she sings a score of 24 songs from her heart and soul. This lovely lady sure can act and knows how to sell a song from the very first note to the last.
Calvert received long, well deserved applause after her show stopping number, Crazy.
There is no doubt the show should be called, Always... Sally Struthers. This award winning triple threat is a master class in comedy and can get more out of a look, facial twitch or pause than some of the comedic greats . Struthers energy has a super glue hold on the audience from the moment she literally jumps on stage. Her acting, singing, dancing, pantomime and self-made sound effects are worthy of the price of admission times ten. Struthers sexy dude car bit and her conducting the band during the song, Your Cheatin' Heart, were hysterical.
The Combined talents of Calvert and Struthers are truly Broadway quality. In what could be a scene-stealing show for Struthers, Calvert holds her own and the two ladies compliment each other naturally, as if they had been friends for years.
Director David Galligan masterfully takes you on a musical journey with spot-on blocking and easy, fun choreography, utilizing every inch of the stage. Galligan knows how to play tug-of-war with your emotions, having you laugh one moment and tear up the next. Perfect pacing and just enough restraint to let Struthers do her thing but not take away from the heart of the piece.
It's wonderful to see Musical Director Ken Clifton actually on stage performing the beautiful music he directs. Clifton perfectly recreated Cline's music and gives Calvert a solid foundation to bring it to life. The musicians, Sue Buzzard, Steve Giunta, Bill Fall, Ken Godel and Scottie Johnson are all members of the Boston Musicians Association and are, in a word, brilliant. Not only do they play their instruments, but they also sing and interact with Calvert and Struthers.
The set by Campbell Baird has a wonderful country feel, beautifully enhanced by the lighting design of Richard Latta. Rather you're at the Grad Ol' Opry, inside Louise's kitchen or in the local night spot, Baird and Latta make you feel like you can "come on in and sit right down". Congratulations to properties supervisor, Allison Gillaspie, for the period pieces.
Steve Weldon, Becky Jean-Shelton Oleksa and Gordon DeVinney provide appropriate and appealing costumes and wigs, especially those of Patsy Cline.
Patsy Cline died at age 30 in 1963 at the height of her career and this show, written by Ted Swindley, well represents why she became a musical icon and why Ogunquit Playhouse continues to be America's foremost summer theatre.
Always...Patsy Cline continues at the Ogunquit Playhouse, 10 Main St, Route 1 in Ogunquit ME through June 16. For tickets or more information call (207) 646-5511 or go to www.ogunquitplayhouse.org.