Patsy Cline, I hardly knew you!
Perhaps the best measure of the success of this production is how much more I wanted to know about this this dynamic performer whose streaking and impactful career was cut short by a plane crash when she was only 30.
Still, the fact that this slick and satisfying offering didn’t allow itself to bog down with bio or background seemed fine and fitting. As a vehicle to showcase the superb vocal skills of Kymberli Colbourne, a company constant and consummate character actress, the show could not be more successful.
My guess is that, for Patsy Cline fans—I confess I’ve never been one—her performance is likely to be a revelation if not an apparent resurrection. (I confirmed the by firing up a Greatest Hits album on my I-phone as soon as I left the theatre.)
Even for the Cabaret, this is a minimalist production, spartan even. Single mike. Single bar stool. Patsy’s autograph in lights above the stage, a large frame of white lights. And yet, warmed by the performances of Colbourne, the comic antics of Christopher Bange, and the contributions of the three-piece band, the less-is-more staging by director Jim Giancarlo is more than sufficient.
The Cline we are shown here is simple, homespun, milk-fed and seemingly authentic. That we don’t get a back-stage or off-stage perspective is fully intentional. Dean Regan, the creator of the show—he produced it first in 1991—allows us to experience her from the perspective of various audiences, in venues ranging from honkytonks, the Grand Old Opry, Las Vegas and even Carnegie Hall.
As commanding as Colbourne is—I’d sign up any day to watch her in concert—Bange’s versatile performance as radio deejay/narrator, Opry clown and Vegas comic provides necessary depth and dimension. And a heck of a lot of pure fun. I loved how he handled even the oldest one-liners and groaners, like, “I got a new truck for my wife…It was the best trade I ever made.”
What struck me in retrospect, though not during the show, was that Colbourne and Bange rarely, if ever, play off each other. (The script simply doesn’t allow for it.) So we never do get to know Cline in relationship or even in conversation. In fact, I found myself looking hard for any clues to her character. For instance, was her remark about the band’s lack of enthusiasm evidence of anything or just a throwaway line to remind us she was performing in jaded Las Vegas?
Still, Colbourne, who does honor to 19 Cline numbers, from the romantic ballad, “Always” to the classic Hang Williams tune, “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” proves herself the consummate professional in this production, one that’s perfectly tuned to the style and dimensions of this elegant dinner theatre.
You can catch the show through March 24.
As a Realtor in Ashland and Southern Oregon, I want to thank you in advance for your business and your referrals. What could be better than working with someone who shares your love of theatre? Call me at 541-778-8949.