Patsy Cline Tribute at Theatre Collingwood

     The second production of Theatre Collingwood’s summer theatre season stars Leisa Way in Sweet Dreams: A Tribute to Patsy Cline featuring the Wayward Wind band, live onstage at the Gayety Theatre for one week only, Aug. 16, 17, 19, 20 & 21 at 8 p.m. with one matinee on Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.

     Created by and starring Way, the one-woman show is a new concert tribute to the legendary country singer. The two-hour presentation is set on the eve of her final concert in Kansas City before a fatal accident. In 1963, just 30 years old, Patsy Cline died tragically in a plane crash. In the six years since she’d had her first hit song, she had already made her mark on the music world paving the way for female solo singers. Cline was as comfortable with hillbilly and gospel music as she was with the emerging ‘60s rock and roll genre.

     There are 29 of Patsy Cline’s most popular hit songs highlighting a special era of country music history. Included are several songs that Cline only ever sang live and were never professionally recorded. Expect to hear classic signature tunes like Crazy, The Tennessee Waltz, I Fall to Pieces, Just a Closer Walk With Thee, Bill Bailey, Walkin’ After Midnight and many more.
     The show was conceived after Way starred in the 1997 stage play, A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline which she notes is vastly different. Ten years later, after researching books and bootleg copies of Cline’s live shows, she discovered it was the generous, big-hearted woman behind the music she wanted most to convey. It was after releasing a musical CD that Way was encouraged to take the show on the road. She does not impersonate; she pays tribute using subtle similar soulful vocal styling and physical mannerisms, with patter between songs to tell stories and little-known anecdotes about the highs and lows of Patsy’s life. Way charms with personality, passion and powerful vocal delivery. Raised in northern Ontario, the perky petite blonde soprano is a long-time fan of country music though her career has spanned jazz, music theatre and opera, as well as spoken plays.

     The Wayward Wind Band which accompanies her is composed of outstanding musicians. Guitarist Bruce Ley was in the Tommy Hunter and Ronnie Prophet Shows.  Pianist Michael Mulrooney has served as music director, conductor and arranger for major music theatre productions. Drummer Dave Wilson and bass Bob Hewus have worked in Toronto orchestra pits for the past two decades with the finest performers in the theatre business.

     Artistic Director Steven Thomas comments: “No one can possibly imagine the scope and even greater impact Patsy Cline might have had on the country western musical community had she not died so young. To have someone of the stature of Leisa Way in the Canadian musical theatre scene pay tribute to Patsy in this way speaks volumes to the importance of this unforgettable icon. I am delighted that Leisa is returning to Theatre Collingwood audiences, after starring in our past productions of Side by Side by Sondheim and The Long Weekend, with this very personal interpretation of Cline.”

     Here is what the critics say:

“Leisa Way’s tribute to Patsy Cline must be unprecedented! A very difficult repertoire to master – with Cline’s trademark deep voice and the ability to hit those low guttural notes – but Way causes shivers with her grandiose voice.” – Banner Review (2005)
“Leisa Way’s brilliant portrayal of this unforgettable country music icon, has to be her greatest triumph, to date.” – Country Music Jukebox, Germany (2006)
     Visit the Theatre Collingwood website for a sneak preview of the show.
     Single adult tickets are $33, Youth $17, High School Eye-GO $5, Group $28 (10 or more booked in advance, receive bonus $5 Downtown Dollars). All prices plus tax and handling charge.
     Theatre Collingwood’s year-round box office is located in the Rail Car beside the Collingwood Museum, 45 St. Paul St. (corner of Pretty River Parkway), (705) 445-2200 / 1 (866) 382-2200. Theatre Collingwood’s summer performance location is the historic Gayety Theatre in downtown Collingwood, 161 Hurontario St. at the corner of Ontario St., open one hour prior to performance.
     Performed in well over 20 theatres to date, this concert commemorating the heart and soul of an unforgettable musical icon has sold out virtually everywhere it has travelled.  This is a limited engagement of six performances only. 

     Any Patsy Cline fans out there? 

1 Comment

  • Really enjoyed this show, both Ms. Way’s stellar energy and the serious musicians on stage, who were a joy to listen to. Thank you, Michael (for inviting me).

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