A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline

Remembering a Life Cut Short

Reviewed by Mary Alderson

I don’t count myself among country music fans, but having seen the Patsy Cline show several times, I now call myself a Patsy fan. She had her own sound, a combination of her gentle southern accent and her smooth deep singing voice. While some of her songs had all the twangs of 1950s-early 60s country music, other songs were sweet ballads.

Sadly her life was cut short when she was killed in a plane crash at age 30 in 1963. But despite her short life, she left a large songbook of hits.

If you remember Patsy you’ll enjoy A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline, now on stage at Port Hope’s Capitol Theatre. If you don’t remember her, then take in the show to hear some wonderful singing.

Michelle Bouey as Patsy takes us through her songbook, from some of her early works, her gospel favourites and her later hits. Bouey embodies Patsy, complete with curly dark hair, smiling face and a clear voice. She even has Patsy’s moves down pat, gently stepping side to side in her cowboy boots or swishing her full skirts and crinolines, both in time with the music.

The show has two cast members:  Bouey as Patsy, and Tyler Murree as Little Big Man. Murree is an excellent character actor, and easily handles various roles in this production. He is the radio announcer promoting Patsy’s latest hits on the air, or a Las Vegas comedian on stage rhyming off the corny jokes, so popular in the sixties.

Also on stage is the entire band of talented musicians backing up Patsy. With Jeff Newberry on piano, Tom Leighton on organ, Jason O’Brien on the big bass violin, Matt Ray on guitar, and Matthew Machanda on drums the music moves between country and easy listening.

Bouey puts her heart into songs like “Walkin’ after Midnight”, “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “I Fall to Pieces”, “Bill Baily”, “Crazy” and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”. On opening night, many audience members were swaying in their seats, in time with the music.

Director Rob Kempson (also the theatre’s artistic producer) pointed out the set which was created in house – a nice backdrop of woodwork, slightly looking like a barn but could also pass for a Vegas cocktail lounge.

Bouey’s costumes are well done, from the red cowboy shirt and skirt, resplendent with white fringe to the glamourous glittery evening gown complete with elbow length gloves.

My only concern with the show was that often the music was too loud and tended to drown out Bouey’s singing as if the band was competing with her, not accompanying her. Other times there was an annoying high pitched zing noise. I trust that these are just opening night problems that will be quickly addressed.

Michelle Bouey’s Patsy is worth the visit to the Capitol, whether you consider yourself a big fan of Patsy Cline, or if you just enjoy a good concert.

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline continues at the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope until June 26, with all Covid protocols in place. Tickets are available at the box office by calling 905-885-1071 or visiting https://capitoltheatre.com/ .

Photo: Michelle Bouey as Patsy Cline. Photo by Sam Moffatt.

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline
By Dean Regan
Directed by Rob Kempson
Musical Direction by Jeff Newberry
Performed by Michelle Bouey and Tyler Murree.
Capitol Theatre, Port Hope
June 2 to 26, 2022
Reviewed by Mary Alderson