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Honky Tonk, Nashville, and pop music sounds invade Actors’ Summit

Roy Berko

Member, American Theatre Critics Association, Cleveland Critics Circle

ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE, now on stage at Actors’ Summit, is a well formed musical review in which a Patsy Cline-imitator wails away Cline’s signature songs, including “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “She’s Got You,” “Anytime,” “Stupid Cupid,” “Lovesick Blues, “Faded Love,” and “Crazy.” The songs are interspersed with comments by a Cline fan and Cline, “herself.”

Born Virginia Patterson Hensley in 1932, she became the signature voice of the Nashville sound, a subgenre of American country music, which was noted for substituting the honky tonk previous style of country music which used fiddles and a nasal sound by the lead vocals, with strings, background music, and crooning lead vocalists.

Cline’s success, more than anything else, was probably brought about by her appearance in 1957 on the “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts,” radio show.

Cline proved to be one of the few country stars of her day who could make the crossover to pop music.

Cline’s sound was distinctive.  She had a rich tone, unusual phrasing, a hitch in her voice that is the key to any singer duplicating her sound, as well as an ability to pronounce words in a way that often made single syllable words into three or four parts.

She died in a plane crash at age 30.  Ten years after her death, she became the first female solo artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Her induction plaque read, “Her heritage of timeless recordings is testimony to her artistic capacity.” And even today, she is recognized as one of the greatest women in country music and rock and roll.

The script and song order for ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE was created by Ted Swindley.

The Actor’s Summit production, under the direction of Constance Thackaberry, is very entertaining.

The two-person show features Jennifer Browning as Cline and Chanda K. Porter as Louise, an avid Cline fan.  The duo is backed up by a wonderful group of musical artists consisting of JT Buck, Musical Director and pianist, Patrick Altmire as percussionist and drummer, Brian Del Bianco on bass, and a set of guitarists who alternate nights.

Porter steals the show as the dynamic, funny, “in your face” Louise.  She has a wonderful sense of comic timing, is totally uninhibited on stage, connects well with the audience, and has a great singing voice.  She is a delight to watch.

Jennifer Browning a has a VERY strong singing voice and has mastered the “Cline” sound and pronunciation.   She fails, however to display the “dynamic” presence for which Cline was noted.  She acts Cline, rather than being Cline. Thus, she becomes a caricature of the great singer rather than Cline.

The bandstand stage design works well.

Capsule judgement: ALWAYS PATSY CLINE makes for a pleasant evening of songs, humor and musical delight.  If you appreciate country music or are an avid fan of Patsy Cline, you will have a wonderful time. 

For tickets to ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE, which runs through June 21, 2015, call 330-374-7568 or go to

Actor’s Summit’s 2015-2016 season includes:  QUILTERS, (Oct. 8-Nov. 1), GUYS ON ICE (Nov. 25-Dec. 22), SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR (Jan. 21-Feb. 7), CHIAPATTI (Feb. 25-Mar. 13), TALLY’S FOLLY (April 14-May 1), TINTYPES (May 19-June 19).

Roy Berko’s commentaries and reviews appear on,, with selected reviews posted on and  To subscribe to his blog go to and follow the directions in the right hand column: