Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
For director Debi Marcucci's vivacious production, Stern brings a staggering 27 of Cline's greatest hits to life, including Walkin' After Midnight, I Fall to Pieces, and Back in Baby's Arms. Stern displays consummate skill and ample charm are in every song she sings. Thanks to John Kolbinski's top-notch sound design, each breathy whisper, sweet trill, and bold crescendo comes through loud and clear. Having a laid back band on stage is loads of fun too.
Rather than attempting to hash out all the details of Patsy Cline's personal and professional life, Always focuses on the unusual friendship between Cline and Louise Seger. Seger was a fan of Cline's music from television and radio. When Cline played at a honky-tonk bar in Houston, Seger introduced herself and bought her a beer. The pair became fast friends and exchanged letters until Cline's tragic death. The story is endearing enough to keep the audience invested, but simple enough to keep the focus on the music. Robbins plays Seger with a perfect blend of genuine warmth and irrepressible sass.
De La Torre and Mariani's excellent costume designs are fun, colorful, and instantly evocative of the late 1950s. The bold lighting design by Matt DeMascolo's raises the energy of the production at all the right moments. Brain Froonjian's set design creates a great sense of space, but the location transitions can be unclear and the onstage band is difficult to see because of the angle between their music stands and the audience. Fortunately, Stern's inviting smile and excellent vocals are there to smooth over any minor issues and make sure absolutely everyone has a great time.
Always...Patsy Cline runs through May 15, 2022, at the Walnut Street Theatre 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, please visit WalnutStreetTheatre.org or call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787.