The Closest You’re Ever Going To Get: Magnus Theatre presents “A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline”

By Kyle Poluyko

Nearly 20 years after its profound Thunder Bay debut, “A Closer Walk
with Patsy Cline” triumphantly returns to the Magnus Theatre stage as
the company’s 41st season opener. Featuring the remarkably gifted,
laudable and deeply affecting performance of Natasha O’Brien as Cline,
the production’s journey through the forever celebrated career of the
singing legend is the nearest one will ever get to hearing Patsy Cline
live today. The shared experience of the audience nears being
religious – the joy of the one of a kind music, and heartbreaking
tragedy of the ending you know is coming but STILL shocks your core.

Just as he did in 1994, director Mario Crudo has joined a
jaw-droppingly multi-talented, phenomenal supporting ensemble with
O’Brien’s Cline to take the audience on a striking “closer walk.” Set
during a March 5, 1963, West Virginia radio broadcast celebrating
Cline’s still rising star, Jerry Getty as radioman Little Big Man
guides the audience from the humble beginnings of Cline’s career in
honky tonks to one of her pinnacle achievements – gracing the
legendary stage of Carnegie Hall – with the true, smooth cool of a
broadcaster and the precious comedic timing of a few interactive
characters including a Grand Ole Opry funny man. Enough cannot be
said about the band, led by Musical Director Danny Johnson, whose
fingers practically melt into the keys of his piano. Together, the
five musicians deliver the accompaniment of over twenty timeless songs
with talent and grace that equals or surpasses the instrumentals on
Cline’s original recordings.

But it is Natasha O’Brien in her Magnus debut as Patsy who makes you
feel the legend is your own personal friend. The role of Patsy Cline,
as demonstrated in a number of small and big screen portrayals, is one
that could easily be made into a caricature. In O’Brien’s skilled
hands, she is no less the superstar we know Cline to have been, but
also the genuine woman who knew and respected the humble beginnings of
her life and never took her career nor her fans for granted. The first
two songs deftly show a Cline developing her signature sound but when
O’Brien takes to the stage for the third, There He Goes, O’Brien
enraptures the audience with not an impression but an embodiment of
Cline’s legend, and you are “back in baby’s arms.” And it is with her
haunting first croon of the word crazy in the song of the same name
that you know O’Brien has taken you to the place of intensity and
passion that defined Cline.

“A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline” is the definitive theatrical musical
experience and escape any theatre-goer will be touched by and depart
knowing a gift has been bestowed upon each of them. “A Closer Walk
With Patsy Cline” runs at Magnus Theatre through September 29th. Call
the box office for tickets at 345-5552 or visit www.magnus.on.ca to
book online.