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Always... Patsy Cline

Article by Michelle L. Smith

Photography by Os Galindo

Stages’ 35th anniversary production of Always …Patsy Cline, portrayed by Kelley Peters, draws on the country star’s Houston performance in 1961 at the Esquire Ballroom. She meets devoted fan Louise Sager, played by Kingwood’s Holland Vavra, at the legendary venue off the Hempstead Highway and the two strike up a remarkable friendship.

Sager negotiates a fairer rate for Cline and drives Cline to KIKK radio station the next morning for an interview, in her pink and black Pontiac, “the Sexy Dude.” Vavra’s voice matches Peters in depth and beauty, offering audiences sheer joy.

There’s an overarching humanity in the simple actions of the play – the simple hospitality, scrambling eggs and frying bacon, to which Texans will relate. “I think the letters are especially moving in that context of this intimate friendship,” says director Kenn McLaughlin. That simple intimacy, coupled with Cline’s ageless music, fills the play with the promise of something special. Houston audiences have embraced the two stars, inviting them to local rodeo events and Carolyn Faulk, who often danced at the Esquire in her high school days at Milby, has invited them to her private box at HLSR in March. Faulk, a Lifetime Vice President and board member and sister HLSR director Mary Ellen Verbois recall seeing Willie Nelson perform at the Esquire, back when he wore a suit and tie to perform.

“The story has that magic ingredient that just draws you in — the friendship of the women, the incredible music of Patsy Cline, and in our space the intimacy of that storytelling,” McLaughlin says. The two become pen pals, beginning with a thank you note from Patsy. The audience hears the real letters exchanged between to two.

The play was written by Stages’ founding artistic director Ted Swindley. returning after overwhelming requests for the eighth time to sold-old crowds. The five-piece Bodacious Bobcats bring a rambunctious spirit as a framework for the action.

"Crazy" is performed with true magic by actress Peters, who may be also be heard at Chapelwood United Methodist Church on Sundays. Her previous Stages credits include ROE (Sarah Weddington), Stages Studio Sessions: Songs My Father Taught Me (created and performed by Kelley Peters), The Honky Tonk Angels & The Honky Tonk Angels Holiday
Spectacular (Darlene), Alley Theatre, A Christmas Carol; Main Street Theater, 1946; and TUTS’ Hairspray. National Tours: Base Hologram, Roy Orbison & Buddy Holly: The Rock’n’ Roll Dream Tour (vocalist, tour coordinator). Her performance, filled with an aching world weariness, does the singer fine justice.

By November 1961, Cline had won “Favorite Female Vocalist" from Billboard Magazine and Cashbox Magazine "Most Programmed Female Artist".  "She Got You"  from 1962 would also be her second No. 1 hit on the Billboard country chart and was Cline's first entry in the United Kingdom singles chart, reaching number 43. In 1962, Cline had three huge hits with  " When I Get Through with You", "So Wrong" and "Imagine That". 

Cline also was the first female country artist to headline her own show in Las Vegas. In January 1963, her next single,  'Leavin On Your Mind"  debuted on the Billboard country chart soon after, followed by "Sweet Dreams", "He Called Me Baby", and "Faded Love".  

New this year: Cabaret-style tables located next to the stage, closer to the magic of Always...Patsy Cline. This unique seating arrangement ensures an intimate connection with the performers, adding an extra touch of elegance and excitement to the theater experience.
 

Details
Dates extended to December 31 at 800 Rosine off Waugh Dr.
Wednesday - Thursday, 7:00pm, Friday, 7:30 pm, Sunday, 2:0pm and 7:30 pm
Link to purchase tix: https://stageshouston.com/event/always-patsy-cline/#open_drawer
Visit StagesTheatre.org or call 713.527.0220.

SIDEBAR TEXT

Fernanda Ogazon is an extraordinary luminary who weaves together the threads of academic excellence, marketing brilliance, and a deep connection to The Woodlands community.

A Woodlands resident for almost a decade, Fernanda's family has carved a meaningful presence in the community. Before stepping into her former role at Stages, Fernanda herself was a proud Woodlands resident. Her parents, business consultant Luis and interior designer Elena Ogazon, both now retired. Fernanda's academic journey is marked by rare achievement, having earned a Bachelor's degree in Art History, Summa Cum Laude, from Universidad Iberoamericana. To enrich her expertise, she pursued graduate studies at NYC’s Sotheby's Institute of Art which led to deeper understanding of the intricate landscape of the art business.

As the driving force behind the concept and artistic direction of marketing for Stages, her innovative brilliance is already leaving an indelible mark. Fernanda's imagination breathed life into the promotional campaigns for shows, captivating audiences and setting new standards for engagement at Stages in its 23/24 season. For the 35th Anniversary of the production of "Always... Patsy Cline," Fernanda's vision is deeply rooted in the transcendence of time, interlacing the allure of Patsy's legacy to resonate with devoted enthusiasts while embracing the opportunity to introduce the iconic artist to a new generation. Fernanda's ingenious concept and artistic direction shine as beacons of innovation in the trailer she conceptualized and artistically directed to promote "Always... Patsy Cline." Recognizing the dual nature of the audience – the devoted Patsy enthusiasts and the yet-to-be-acquainted – Fernanda's creative prowess comes to life. For the trailer, she deftly navigated the delicate balance, intertwining the allure of Patsy's enduring legacy to captivate loyal fans, while ingeniously crafting an appeal that resonates across generations. This masterful approach not only pays homage to the legend but also introduces her timeless magic to a fresh audience, a testament to her exceptional vision and strategic insight.

Fernanda's multidimensional approach resulted in selling out entire shows for "Always... Patsy Cline", but also by the resounding success of Stages' 23/24 season. Subscription sales soared, surpassing sales targets in record time under her visionary leadership.

As the former marketing director for Stages, Fernanda Ogazon's journey continues to illuminate the arts and elevate experiences, cementing her role as a trailblazer who seamlessly merges academic rigor, marketing finesse, and an unwavering dedication to building a community. She currently has her own company, consulting with corporations and non-profits on art.