"Always ... Patsy Cline

Indianapolis Civic Theatre

Directed by Robert J. Sorbera

Through May 26

Always ... Patsy Cline is a strange piece of musical theater. Based on a true story, it has a two-woman cast: Pasty Cline and the friend she made during a show at a honky tonk in Houston, Louise Seger. Instead of having dialogue, Louise, played at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre by Kelly Jo Turner, reminisces about her friendship with Patsy; and Patsy, played by Annie Steele, just floats in and out and sings.

The show is packed with Cline’s songs — 27 in all — and given its set-up, feels much more like a musical revue than a musical play. Given this, it helps if you are a big Patsy Cline fan. If you are not, the anemic storyline isn’t going to be enough to keep you entertained.

Regardless, Steele has an amazing voice. While not catching Cline’s sound exactly, her renditions capture that particular country flavor that made Cline so popular. Instead of trying to re-create a Cline hit precisely, Steele — smartly — negotiates the songs while keeping within her own range, creating a solid and splendid concert.

Turner plays the heart-of-gold-in-the-rough Louise, a divorced mom with two kids who has a case of hero-worship for Cline. Her character is split between mildly annoying country-western hick and fanatic. While Turner tries to make Louise funny and endearing, she often comes off as naive and embarrassing.

A highlight of the show is the jamming backing band, “The Bodacious Bobcats,” headed up by musical director Brent Marty. Cline’s numerous costume changes are also worth noting, by costume designer Christopher Arthur. I wish the same kind of wardrobe had been extended to Louise, who often makes specific mention of the different outfits she is wearing but maintains the same costume throughout.

Directed by Robert J. Sorbera, Always … Patsy Cline continues through May 26 at the Civic, located on the campus of Marian College. Call 317-923-4597 for tickets, $24 and $31, or log onto www.civictheatre.org.



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