Houston housewife Louise Seger (Haliey Weber) had a connection with her favorite musician many fans could only dream of.
After seeing Patsy Cline (Andrea Olsen) on “The Arthur Godfrey Show” in 1957, Seger was hooked and known to call into her local radio station and request Cline’s songs.
A few years later, Cline performed in Houston. Seger and her friends arrived early to the show and ran into Cline, who was traveling alone.
The two women began to chat, and the evening ended with Cline staying over at Seger’s, where the two talked long into the night.
Before heading to a gig in Dallas the next day, Cline and Seger exchanged addresses and phone numbers and began a correspondence that would last until Cline’s death in a plane crash in 1963.
The story of Cline and Seger’s friendship is told in the musical “Always, Patsy Cline.” After a well-received run in 2017, Spokane Valley Summer Theatre will kick off its current season with another production of the musical.
“Always, Patsy Cline,” directed by Yvonne A.K. Johnson, runs Friday through June 30 at University High School.
Because she didn’t know much about Cline or her music when she heard about the production, Weber wasn’t planning on auditioning.
But Olsen, who starred in “Always, Patsy Cline” in 2017, had other plans for her.
“She said ‘Oh my gosh, Haliey, you have to audition for Louise. … You are Louise,’ ” Weber recalled.
Weber still wasn’t sure, but she agreed to think about it. She listened to some of Cline’s music and watched a production of “Always, Patsy Cline.” She quickly fell in love with the way the show portrays the pair’s friendship, highlights Cline’s songs and gets the audience involved.
And she realized that Olsen was right – she is Louise. Weber said she has a larger-than-life personality that sometimes gets tamped down by people who tell her she’s talking or laughing too loud. But while playing Louise, a firecracker who never stops talking, no one can tell her to be quiet.
“One thing I’ve loved about this character is she is so big and she’s so fun,” Weber said. “It’s been fun for me because I can be the part of my personality that I always like to be all the time, which is this very high-energy person, but then society is like ‘there’s a time and a place.’ ”
Weber auditioned and, to her surprise, got the part. She’s been offstage for several years while working on her master’s in teaching but is excited to get back onstage and work with Olsen.
“Andrea raises her from the dead,” Weber said. “Last night she put on her costume for the first time with her wig, and I was like, ‘Oh my Lord, you look just like her.’ People are going to freak out.”
In “Always, Patsy Cline,” Olsen performs standards like “Crazy,” “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “I Fall to Pieces,” as well as lesser-known songs like “Three Cigarettes (In an Ashtray).”
“Honky Tonk Angel,” originally sung by Kitty Wells, and Cline’s cover of “Shake, Rattle and Roll” also appear in the show, as does Cline’s take on an easy listening tune by Cole Porter titled “True Love.”
The band features Drew Olsen (music director/pianist), Bruce Pennell (upright bass), Mike Frederick (lead guitar), Chris Tamayo (fiddle/violin), Mark Adkins (pedal steel guitar) and Taylor Belote (percussion).
To get into superfan mode, Weber read all the articles about Cline she could get her hands on. She watched Cline’s performance on “The Arthur Godfrey Show” to see what hooked Seger in the first place, and she looked up newspaper clippings on Cline’s death so she could have the incident in her mind during her final speech.
She also studied the relationship between Cline and Seger and appreciated how they helped each other out during a time when women still needed a man to be socially accepted.
“I think what’s so great about her and why so many people love her is she lived life so big and full,” Weber said. “I think that’s why Louise was drawn to her because her personality is that way, too. I wish I could have met her. I think what’s different with this musical is it’s so real, and you really feel like you’re in there with Patsy. I think it brings back memories for people. She was a star.”
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