Growing up I didn’t listen to much Patsy Cline. My parents were more into Johnny Cash and Roger Miller. So I spent a lot of time listening to Johnny Cash and Roger Miller.
My father-in-law spent a lot of time listening to Patsy Cline and Marty Robbins. Which meant my wife spent a lot of time listening to Patsy Cline and Marty Robbins.
So Laurie was much more excited about going to see “A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline” than I was, but I was familiar enough with her music to assume that it would probably be a good show.
Sometimes assumptions are correct.
Julie Johnson gives a stellar performance as the country music legend. Backed by a solid four-piece band (Jerry Matheny on electric guitar, Rocky Gribble on acoustic guitar and banjo, John Kerry Huckaba on bass and bass guitar, and D Garrett Roper on drums), Johnson sings and yodels her way through many of Cline’s big hits.
Steve Barcus ties the narrative together as a radio disc jockey hosting a musical tribute to Cline. Barcus plays seven other roles in the course of the show and also serves as the band’s pianist.
Born Virginia Patterson Hensley in 1932, Patsy Cline began her musical career as a teenager, first singing on a local radio show and then in bars and talent shows. She had her first hit with “Walking After Midnight” in 1957 and went on to find success on both the country and pop charts. She died in a plane crash at age 30.
“A Closer Walk” covers all the high points of Cline’s musical career — from radio to nightclubs to the Grand Ole Opry to Las Vegas to Carnegie Hall. It deals with her personal struggles as well. All while performing songs that have become pop music standards — like “I Fall To Pieces,” “She’s Got You” and “Crazy.”
But this isn’t strictly a concert show. Barcus and the band keep things lively with olde tyme comedy bits and classic commercial jingles.
“A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline” is a terrific show. The music is great, the musicians are great, the leads are great and the comedy’s a bit corny — but that’s keeping in the spirit of the times. The Playhouse is also a fine venue for such a program — small and intimate.
“A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline” runs through May 6 at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza. www.playhouseatwestport.com/