Whoo, dogies! It shorely don't take much to whip up a crowd-pleasin' musical. Just put a fetchin' gal in gorgeous get-ups, back her with a toe-tapping band, and have her sing her soulful country heart out. And, of course, throw in a clown. Any country music show worth two poots in a whirlwind has gotta have a clown.
At least, that appears to be Ted Swindley's idea of a winning formula. Swindley is the creator and director of "Always . . . Patsy Cline," a country revue that has toured extensively--including that mecca of down-home glitz, Branson, Mo.--before its present engagement at the La Mirada Theatre.
Swindley takes a strictly low-tech approach to the business of entertaining--and that's not necessarily bad. He simply plants his country band--a capable group led by music director-arranger August Eriksmoen--on the top level of Gary Wissmann's handsome wooden set and has the action swirl around them. If you're a Cline fan--and just about anyone who has ever heard her sing is--it's a warm and fuzzy experience.
It's also insubstantial. Guaranteed to put your brain on hold for an escapist two hours, Swindley's thin-as-sheet-music concept proves a meager excuse for a musical. Based on a "true story," the show concerns the real-life friendship between the legendary Cline (Jessica Welch) and Texas fan Louise Seger (Misty Rowe), who strikes up an acquaintance with Cline at a Dallas engagement in 1961. After the concert, the two women share bacon, eggs and girl talk until the wee hours, then wind up corresponding until Cline's death in a plane crash.