Encore Michigan

Felicia Finley brings the Opry to The Meadow Brook in ‘A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline’

Review June 05, 2022 Encore Staff

ROCHESTER HILLS–Patsy Cline was a legend. In some ways she was the female Hank Williams. Both country music stars drew reverence from other performers, as well as the public, before and after their tragic premature deaths.

Cline was killed in a plane crash in 1963. Over time, and especially after the release of the bio-pic Coal Miner’s Daughter about Loretta Lynn in which Lynn’s and Cline’s friendship was depicted, interest in Cline has grown and led to two theatre productions. There’s Always Patsy Cline, a jukebox musical with an underlying book about the star’ friendship and letter writing with a fan, and A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline, now playing at The Meadow Brook, about her career as told through the character of a DJ known as “Little Big Man.”

Closer Walk is done almost as a two-act radio play done on stage with radio patter by Little Big Man and back-up singing by the four Jordanaires, complete with some cheesy joke sketches, ad jingles and storytelling that were boilerplate radio in the South at the time.

But the main attraction here is the depiction of Cline, by Broadway veteran Felicia Finley, who inhabits the legendary Cline with great style and big vocals contoured for the Cline hits. Chip DuFord plays the DJ walking us through Cline’s life and big hits like “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “Crazy,” (written by a young barely known Willie Nelson,” and “I Fall To Pieces.” DuFord gets the Kennedy-era country DJ persona just right.

The Jordanaires are played by Geoffrey  Besser, Tyler Bolda, Sam VanKampen and Mikey Vultaggio, and under the music direction of Zachary Ryan, these fellows could think about staying together as a quartet as their harmonies are pitch perfect. Liz Goodall’s costumes for the singers, as well as for Cline, put us right smack in the Grand Ol’ Opry, as does Christa Tausney’s scenic design.

Travis Walter’s direction leaves audiences with an evening of some of the best country music ever performed by one of the true legends of the craft, as played solidly and deliciously by Ms. Finley. Fans of Cline’s music could be seen sacheting and clapping in their seats just as if they were in the Opry some 500 miles from The Meadow Brook.

A Closer Walk plays through June 19. Ticket and showtime info can be found here.

Week of 7/4/2022

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