If you’ve got country music in your soul then this is the show for you – it has all the hand-clapping and foot-stomping and wailing steel gee-tars any country and western fan could want. George Hamilton V (his father was a great pal of the real Patsy Cline and a country star in his own right) plays support and acts as narrator to Patsy Cline's rise to become “the greatest country singer that ever lived".
Backed up by a talented five-piece band, Patsy is played by Sandy Kelly who has the clothes, hair and something of the voice of Cline who was a huge star in the 1950s and died in a light aircraft crash in 1963, way before her time.
It’s a hard act to pull off and here it’s successful up to a point. Like Ella Fitzgerald and Doris Day, Cline had distinctive sound and clear line, a remarkable vocal control that is almost impossible to mimic. She could growl through country numbers and had an emotional tremor in her voice that was hugely affecting and very difficult to replicate.
Patsy sang from the heart and could make even mawkish songs real. She could convey the truth of the song no matter how trite. This is one reason why she became a fantastic crossover star and moved away from “crying in your beer music” to a more easy-listening sound.
Sandy Kelly plays a good game and she has some great repartee between songs although sometimes she is very near to singing “in the club style”. At the end of the show Kelly drops the American accent for a couple of songs and it’s all the better for that. Oddly, the less well-known Patsy songs – “Bill Bailey” and “Eyes of a Child" – are far better performed by Kelly than the big hits like “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces” that everyone remembers.
There’s a lot of chatter from Sandy and George – if only we had more of the band without the singers, as a palate cleanser if nothing else. Heavens, the audience was more than up for a singalong on their own.