Theater Review: ‘A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline’ a big hit at the Fireside

By Edith McCauley
Theater Critic

Playing to sold-out houses, A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline is the hit of the current season at the Fireside Dinner Theatre.

Virginia Hensley grew up in Winchester, Va., and by the time she was 16, had made her debut at a local radio station. With the support of her mother and a determination to become the first female country singer to achieve recognition, she toured the South, singing in small venues until she eventually became a part of the Grand Ole Opry.

Leslie Jo Bissett is Patsy Cline. A performer for 40 years, she has made this role her own, and her ability to vocalize so perfectly makes her completely believable. Robin Buerger designs her wardrobe, an authentic representation of the country singers of the early ’50s and ’60s.

Joining Bissett on stage, Dan Embree gives the story continuity narrating her life, and with Marie Elena O’Brien, as a part of the Grand Ole Opry, injects some of the humor so popular in the early days of radio. The Jordanaires are an effective backup group for Bissett and do some clever commercials, also a part of radio history. Matthew Conti, Michael Mott, Michael Andrako and Kevin Barthel add balance to the production.

The matinee audience consisted of mostly seniors, arriving in groups and those celebrating anniversaries and birthdays. Their enjoyment of the show was evident. The Klopcic family continues to offer exactly the kind of entertainment that has become a tradition at the Fireside. Their cuisine also begins with dishes that stimulate the palate. Lunch and dinner are never a disappointment.

A recent addition to their seasons are the biblical-based musicals created by Danny Hamilton and Gary Richardson. The Rock and the Rabbi, followed by The Witnesses and The Child, have led to the next production, David. It opens July 7 and runs through Aug. 21. The season closes with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and A Fireside Christmas. Tickets are now on sale for the 2012 season: Jan. 19-March 4—Viva Vegas; March 8-May 6—9 to 5, The Musical; May 10-July 1—Legally Blonde, The Musical; July 12-Aug. 19—The Rock and the Rabbi; Aug. 23-Oct. 21—Hello, Dolly!; and Oct. 25-Dec. 22—Scrooge, The Musical.

Tickets are available by calling (800) 477-9505 or online at Save up to 30 percent with season tickets. Group bookings and season tickets are on sale now, and individual tickets are also available. The theater is handicap accessible, a great advantage for many seniors. Do try to see their productions.

From the June 15-21, 2011 issue

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