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‘Patsy Cline’ back by popular demand

Published 9:15am Wednesday, March 23, 2011

She was the first woman ever elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. And when the Country Music Television Network ran a four-hour special on “The 40 Greatest Women in Country Music,” she was selected No. 1 as the single greatest contributor to the profession.

Her name?

Patsy Cline.

How appropriate then that this weekend at the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center, the clock will be turned back to 1957 to present Miss-Lou residents to a repeat performance of the hit musical “Always…Patsy Cline.”

You’ll be whisked back to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and WSM’s Grand Ole Opry, where you’ll see “Patsy” make her Opry debut on that famous stage. You’ll have a chance to sit back and enjoy her greatest hits, including “Crazy,” “I Fall To Pieces,” “Walking After Midnight” and 23 more.

The show is based on the true story of Patsy Cline’s friendship with Houston housewife Louise Seger. Louise, portrayed by Diana Glaze — who also directs the production — is the narrator. She first hears Patsy sing on the Arthur Godfrey Show in 1957, and it’s love at first sound.

Louise becomes an ardent fan and every morning pesters a local radio station disc jockey into playing a Patsy Cline tune. When she learns Patsy is going to perform at a Houston honky-tonk, she arranges to be there hours before the show. And, in short order, Louise progresses from fan to agent to good friend and confidant.

Although Louise never sees Patsy again, they stay in touch by mail until the singer’s untimely and tragic death at age 30 in 1963.

Patsy is portrayed by Miss-Lou resident Mary Nell Rushing. A talented vocalist and huge Patsy Cline fan, it is a role she cherishes, and you’ll hear why when she hits that first note.

Close your eyes, and you’ll think the real Patsy is on stage. Patsy’s famous band, “The Bodacious Bobcats,” is recreated as well. Miss-Lou residents will find themselves tapping their toes to the music produced by one of the finest country-western swing bands ever assembled in this area.

First, there’s the barrel-roll honky-tonk piano playing of Musical Director Sylvia Johns Ritchie, the violin virtuosity of fiddlers Mickey Davis and Dave Troutman and the mournful wailing sounds of Ken Cranford on pedal steel guitar.

These four are backed by a solid rhythm section, which includes Louie DeVries on bass, Casey Gilbert on guitar, and yours truly on drums.

Every Miss-Lou performance of this show in the past has been a sellout, so country-western fans had better round up tickets fast for this popular event, which truly transcends labels and genres.

Make plans to attend at 7 p.m. Friday or 2 p.m. Sunday at the Margaret Martin Performing Art Center on Homochitto Street. The show is sponsored by the Natchez Festival of Music Guild, and tickets can be purchased by calling Mary Robertson at 601-445-2210; online at www.natchezpilgrimage.com or from the Natchez Visitor Reception Center at 640 South Canal St.

Terry Trovato is the drummer for “Always…Patsy Cline.”