A smash hit at Chicago's Northlight Theatre, the biographical revue Always...Patsy Cline, has extended its commercial run indefinitely at the Apollo Theatre. The show was originally scheduled to run through March 23, then to May 11.
Folksinger Megon McDonough, who appeared as Cline, in the Evanston mounting, is going on tour with the folk quartet, "Four Bitchin' Babes," and won't be in the Apollo mounting, which is produced by Richard Friedman and Rob Kolson in association with the Randy Johnson Company. Instead, Chicago music-theatre veteran Hollis Resnick will play the lead.
Appearing with Resnick as friend and fan Louise is Sarah Underwood, who recently 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.
With only these two characters, Always...Patsy Cline, Ted Swindley's play with music, 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, and is set to play at Actors Theatre of Louisville's Binghman Theatre, from July 8 - Aug. 24. The show's 6-week run at Northwestern University in Evanston grossed a record $300,000-plus, making it an ideal candidate to help resuscitate the Apollo. To make the Northlight-to-Apollo transition even more special, designer Mary Griswold will transform the Apollo lobby to evoke a country/western saloon (complete with liquor license), while Todd Rosenthal's set will be enlarged for the Apollo's thrust stage and 430 seat theatre.
Directing this 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-nominted All In The Timing.
Playwright J. Ted 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.
Hollis Resnick has apeared at the Forum, Goodman, Court, Candlelight, Apple Tree, Wisdom Bridge and Marriott Lincolnshire Thetres. A 7-time Jeff Award winner, Resnick received the Sarah Siddons Leading Lady Award for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in Piaf at Interplay.
Cline's ill-fated flight aside, the saddest part of this production is that Always was the last production in Northlight's currrent home at Northwestern University's Barber Theatre in Evanston. The good news is that with their next show in March, Russell Vandenbroucke's Atomic Bombers, Northlight will be at their new space, the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie.
For tickets ($25-$36.50) and information on Always...Patsy Cline, at the Apollo Theatre on North Lincoln Ave., (773) 935-6100.
-- By David Lefkowitz