A smash hit at Chicago's Northlight Theatre, the biographical revue Always...Patsy Cline, will continue its commercial run through Dec. 31, but at a different venue: Victory Gardens Theatre.
The show has been playing at the Apollo (in a run extended first past March 23, then past May 11), but is moving to make way for Buddy...The Buddy Holly Story, which opens Oct. 28. Cline leaves the Apollo Oct. 12 and starts at Victory Gardens Oct. 18. After a week of "Housewarming Previews," the show officially reopens at the Victory Gardens Upstairs Mainstage Oct. 24.
Alice Kirwan will stay on as Cline, while Dawn Hopper temporarily fills in (for eight weeks) for Sarah Underwood as Louise. Underwood had previously completed the national tour of Angels In America as Harper. Her Chicago credits include Northlight's Smoke On The Mountain, Steppenwolf's Evelyn And The Polka King, and the Goodman's Cry, The Beloved Country. She returns to Cline Dec. 3.
Hopper appeared in Pump Boys And Dinettes at the Apollo and directed the first international tour of that show in the Netherlands.
Kirwan, a founding member of the cabaret trio "The Pumps," is the third Chicago Kline -- after Megon McDonough and Hollis Resnick. With only these two characters, Always...Patsy Cline, J. Ted Swindley's play with music (based on a Cline biography by Ellis Nassour) covers the hard-livin' life of the country songstress, who died in a plane crash in 1963. She's considered the first woman to cross over from country to pop music. Songs performed in this fictionalized bio include, "I Fall To Pieces," "Walkin' After Midnight," "Blue Moon Over Kentucky" and "Sweet Dreams" (later taken as the title for Jessica Lange's film biography of Cline).
The popular musical has received successful productions at several muscial theatres around the country, including Actors Theatre of Louisville's Binghman Theatre, July 8 - Aug. 24. The show's 6-week run at Northwestern University in Evanston grossed a record $300,000-plus. Always...Patsy Cline is also playing an open run at Off-Broadway's Variety Arts Theatre.
Directing the Chicago production of Always...Patsy Cline is Brian Russell, whose credits at Northlight include the world premiere of Mark Twain And The Laughing River, as well as A Perfect Ganesh and the Jeff-nominated All In The Timing.
Playwright Swindley has directed and produced more than 200 shows in his 15-year career and has received the Los Angeles Dramalog Award for his work at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Costumes for Cline are by Nan Cibula-Jenkins, sound is by Bruce Holland, lighting by Emil Boulos. Luke Nelson leads the Country `n' Western band accompanying Resnick's Cline on her hits.
For tickets ($28.50-$36.50) and information on Always...Patsy Cline, call (773) 935-6100 for the Apollo (to Oct. 12) and (773) 871-3000 for Victory Gardens Theatre.
-- By David Lefkowitz