A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline

By Dean Regan
Performed by Karin Coughlin, David Kirby
Directed by Robert More
VPP Production, Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
May 23 – June 10, 2006
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

Taking a Walk in Nostagia

If you like Patsy Cline’s music, you’ll enjoy Just a Closer Walk with Patsy Cline currently playing at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia. Karen Coughlin’s clear voice does justice to the songs made famous by the country & western performer in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Coughlin may have toned down the country twang, making it more palatable for today’s audience And certainly the full house on opening night was appreciative of her performance.

Coughlin’s superb singing skills are well known to area audiences. She performed last year as Cindy in Suds at Hiawatha Slots in Sarnia and also as Belle in Beauty and the Beast at Huron Country Playhouse. That role turned into an extended run at other Drayton Entertainment venues.

But while it was Coughlin’s voice that made the show memorable, the production was lacking in other areas. The show was shorter than usual, and it seemed as if information was lacking. It was unclear whether the production was deliberately shortened by cutting material from the script, or there was a mix up on stage and lines were skipped. In any case, biographical information about Patsy was not there and it seemed like some dialogue was missing. It would certainly have added to the show to learn more about Patsy’s life.

David Kirby played Little Big Man, the Virginia radio station announcer, as well as several other roles providing the comic relief. He performed very well as the Grand Ole Opry comedian and the flashy Las Vegas nightclub singer.

Musical Director and Pianist Christopher Mounteer does an excellent job with the band. His experience was evident – he filled the same positions when A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline was staged at Playhouse II in Grand Bend in 2004.

Perhaps it was opening night jitters, but attention to detail wasn’t evident. A can of Ajax foaming cleanser isn’t the same as a box of laundry detergent. And did Patsy Cline perform in bare feet, or were the shoes lost back stage?

If you want to attend a good concert with songs like “Walkin’ after Midnight”, “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “I Fall to Pieces”, “Bill Baily”, “Crazy” and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”, then you’ll love this show. If you’re looking to learn a little more about Patsy, her life and her feelings, then this production won’t be adequate.

A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline sold out two years ago when it ran for the entire summer at Playhouse II in Grand Bend. If you missed it then, here’s an opportunity to see it. And while the opening night show wasn’t equal to the Playhouse II production, it should smooth out and improve as the run continues.

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until June 10. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or (519) 882-1221 for tickets.

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