Patsy Cline’s name may be in the title, but director Octavia Biggs said “Always ... Patsy Cline”¿is really the story of Texas housewife Louise Seger.
“The story is really about Louise, the friend, and what having Patsy as a friend meant to her. It’s really a beautiful story about friendship,” Biggs said.
“Always... Patsy Cline” is the current production of Morehead’s community theater group, the Morehead Theatre Guild. The show opened Thursday and stars Morehead residents Pam Hammonds as Louise Seger and Leslie Lewis as Patsy Cline.
The story begins when Seger first hears Cline singing on “The Arthur Godfrey Show” in 1957. She becomes an instant fan and, when Cline comes to perform in Seger’s hometown of Houston, Texas, the two meet and agree to exchange letters. They continue to write to one another for several years until Cline’s death in 1963.
Because “Always”¿is a two woman show, Biggs said casting was especially important. Hammonds is on stage for the entire two hour production, and the part is demanding physically, Biggs said.
“When I was doing auditions, it was really important that I found somebody that could handle, just the weight of something like that in a show,” Biggs said. “Not only is she on stage the whole time, but she does a lot of dancing and moving around.¿It’s quite a workout.”
Finding a singer who could match Cline’s distinctive vocal style also was a challenge, but Biggs said Lewis has been practicing the show’s 28 songs since she was cast in May and audiences will not be disappointed.
“(At a recent rehearsal), I closed my eyes and turned my back and, I’ve got to tell you, I’ve listened to a lot of Patsy over the last year and a half, and I think people are going to be really taken with her voice. I think the audience is really going to enjoy her performance,” Biggs said.
Biggs has been interested in “Always” since 1999, when the Morehead Theatre Guild first approached her about possibly directing. However, the show was still in production Off-Broadway, and the guild couldn’t get the rights to perform it. When Biggs was given another opportunity to direct the show, she said it was offer she couldn’t refuse.
“I jumped at it because I¿loved it back then. I’m drawn to shows that have strong women, and this has two. Patsy, she was a strong woman,” Biggs said.
Working with the Morehead Theatre Guild has been a great experience, Biggs said. The director works full-time at the Lexington Children’s Theatre, but also has an interest in community theater. As a graduate of the Morehead State University theater program, working with the Morehead Theatre Guild is particularly meaningful. Biggs has acted and directed in shows across the country and studied theater at the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York City.
“They do a great job with their productions. It’s a pleasure to work with them and their organization,” Biggs said.
Although the show is told from Louise’s perspective, there is still plenty of Patsy Cline music. Lewis has 28 vocal performances during the show, and Biggs praised the versatility in the late singer’s music.
“She’s country and western, but she’s also got a lot of jazz and pop feel to her, which is why I¿think she’s still popular today. ... She can wail a song,” Biggs said.
Performances will be today and Sunday and Sept. 1, 2 and 4 at 8 p.m. at the Morehead Conference Center, 111 E. First St. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children ages 10 and under.
There will be a special dinner theater performance Saturday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 for all ages.
To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit www.moreheadtheatre.org.
Contact Rachel Parsons at email@example.com.