Front (L to R): Rachel Space (Louise) and Janet Mazdra (Patsy),
Back (L to R): Karen Warren (keyboard) and Tom Warren (guitar)
Front (L to R): Janet Mazdra (Patsy), Back (L to R): Karen Warren (keyboard) and Tom Warren (guitar)
Front (L to R): Rachel Space (Louise) and Janet Mazdra (Patsy), Back (L to R): Karen Warren (keyboard) and Tom Warren (guitar)
L to R: Janet Mazdra (Patsy) and Rachel Space (Louise)
Jan 18-Feb 10, 2008
Based on a true story.
|House Manager Coordinator|
|Scenic And Lighting Designer|
Music packs the theater
Local talent shines in 'Always ... Patsy Cline'
- By Joel Courtney, Las Cruces Bulletin
If you notice the parking lot at the Black Box Theatre fuller than usual in the coming weekends, it's because of the overwhelming success of their newest production "Always ... Patsy Cline."
The play takes a look at the life of Patsy Cline (Janet Mazdra) through the life of one of her biggest fans, Louise Seger (Rachel Space).
Seger has admired the work of Cline since hearing her on the television and actually had the chance to meet her prior to a concert in Seger's hometown of Houston.
The meeting starts a friendship between the two women, something that would never happen between a musical superstar and a random fan in today's world thanks to agents, publicists and entourages.
The story - although told solely from the perspective of Seger - shows the human side of Cline, especially how easily she would talk to and take advice from a stranger.
In between snippets of the story Mazdra, sometimes along with Space, performs songs from Cline's repertoire.
Some of the songs, such as "Walkin' After Midnight" and "I Fall to Pieces," are Cline's timeless classics. Others, like "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," aren't well known but help capture the true spirit of Patsy Cline.
The music is superb. Although Mazdra originally said in an interview with the Bulletin that she didn't feel she sounded like Cline in every song, I would have to disagree. Having spent most of last week listening to Patsy's best while I put together my stories, Mazdra seamlessly took over for those classic recordings to my ears. Providing backup music for Mazdra are Karen Warren on keyboard and Tom Warren on guitar.
Space provides a fun and rambunctious leader for the story between songs. She lends her considerable energy to keep the audience lively and creates a fun character in her interpretation of Seger.
Because "Always ... Patsy Cline" is in essence a onewoman show with musical interludes, Space really has to set the mood for the audience, and she does a fantastic job between her mannerism and central Texas accent of transporting the audience to the 1960s when Country music still filled the airwaves over the budding rock and roll.
Mazdra also captures the calm intensity of Cline. She is so dedicated to her craft, and despite the fact that it tore her away from her family more than she would have liked, she wouldn't feel complete keeping this music inside of her. These qualities resonate equally well for Mazdra and Cline, and that makes her performance all that much more special.
There has been a large amount of publicity coming into this show, so the opening weekend saw a nearly packed house in every performance. And once word of mouth gets going, those remaining seats are going to start disappearing quickly.
Normally, it's difficult to tell if the audience in general enjoyed themselves during a performance, but not during "Always ... Patsy Cline." Throughout the show, I could feel the tapping of feet against the floor and quite a bit of humming or singing along from the audience.
It was especially nice to see so many new faces in the crowd. Sometimes it seems as if the same 100 people attend all the live theater in Las Cruces, but I know a lot of exposure will come out of this one show, and I encourage each of them to come back and see if this might be something they could enjoy regularly.
As a closing thought, I would like to thank all of the sponsors who made "Always ... Patsy Cline" a possibility with their generous donations. They have given a very special gift to Las Cruces, and it is greatly appreciated.
Some Background on Patsy Cline and No Strings Theatre Company's Production of Always ... Patsy Cline
- By Mike Cook,
Cesár E. Chávez Elementary School speech language pathologist Janet Mazdra will play the title role in "Always ... Patsy Cline," which opens Friday, January 18 and runs through Sunday, February 10 at Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Downtown Mall in Las Cruces.
The musical is based on a true story about the friendship between country music singer Patsy Cline and her friend, Louise Seger, and is filled with Cline's best-known songs. Santa Teresa High School theatre teacher and Las Cruces actor/director Rachel Space plays Seger. The play is directed by Dale Pawley of Las Cruces. Tom and Karen Warren are the musicians for this show. Karen, an Advanced Educational Services facilitator at Mayfield High School, will play keyboards, and Tom, a contract computer consultant with the district, is picking the guitar.
Patsy Cline was born Virginia Patterson Hensley on September 8, 1932. She died in a plane crash on March 5, 1963. In 1973, Cline became the first female solo artist inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame. "Walkin' After Midnight" was her first big hit, in 1957. "I Fall to Pieces" was her first #1 record, in 1961.
"I first got interested in this show when my friend, Rachel Space, first brought this musical to my attention over a year and a half ago. She had always wanted to play Louise in this show, and since I have always wanted to be a country singer at heart, we felt like the role of Patsy Cline would be a perfect fit for me," said Mazdra.
"After reading the script, I was definitely committed to this project. The Black Box agreed to do the show and so began a fun journey to becoming Patsy. I've never played a real person before, let alone someone with the legendary status of Patsy Cline. The musical showcases Patsy's music as well as a fan's view of who the country superstar really was on a more personal level," she said.
"There are 27 Patsy Cline songs in the show and I'm excited to just get to sing so many great tunes! As well, I have truly enjoyed working on this show with Rachel Space, a very gifted local actress. Our friendship has grown so strong during the course of rehearsing this show - equally as strong as the bonds of friendship between Patsy and Louise in the show. It's been a true blessing to have the opportunity to bring this show to the Las Cruces stage and I'm looking forward to sharing this fun and meaningful show with the community," said Mazdra.
Mazdra was mostly recently seen as Reno Sweeney in Las Cruces Community Theatre's 2007 production of "Anything Goes." She also has appeared for LCCT as Sister Robert Anne in the Nunsense musicals and as Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors" and Ella in "Bells are Ringing." At the Black Box Theatre, she played Emma in "Tell Me on a Sunday" and starred in a one-woman March of Dimes fundraising show called "Wine, Woman and Song." She also has appeared in professional theatre in at Six Flags St. Louis and the Robert E. Lee Showboat Dinner Theatre, also in St. Louis, along with several murder mystery dinner theatres.
Pawley signed on as director of "Always...Patsy Cline" "when Janet Mazdra asked me if I'd come on board to direct the musical sequences since the person who was going to direct the show had no experience with musical direction and needed assistance in that area. Having served as assistant director for Oleanna'" last year, I had worked with Rachel Space and very much wanted to work with her again. Janet and I already knew that we worked well together - I've directed her in three other shows: 'Crimes of the Heart' (1998) and 'Little Shop of Horrors' (1999) for LCCT and 'Tell Me On a Sunday' (2002) for the Black Box Theatre. So we felt that this would be a great collaboration.
This has been one of the most enjoyable theatrical experiences I've ever had, and the perfect show for me to get my feet wet again after a nearly six-year break from directing. Janet and Rachel and I, along with our musicians, Tom and Karen Warren, have a great chemistry together, and the collaborative spirit in this show really shines through, in my opinion," he said. "The response to this show has been overwhelming, even though it hasn't opened yet. People seem to be excited to see the play, and I've discovered that nearly everyone I talk to about it seems to connect in some way to Patsy Cline's music. Almost everybody I know has some personal memory or experience that involves a Patsy Cline song, whether it's dancing to 'Crazy' with a girlfriend/boyfriend at a dance, or finding a release of their emotions after a break-up while listening to 'I Fall To Pieces.' I've only met one or two people who have not heard of her, or are unfamiliar with her work, which is something I've never encountered with any other musician or performer," said Pawley. Pawley also directed "Deathtrap" in 1999 and "The Miracle Worker" in 2002 for LCCT, and later this season will be directing "Hello, Dolly!" for LCCT.
No seating plan has been posted.