Maureen Collins in tribute to country legend Patsy Cline

Thursday, July 26, 2018

What: “Wine and Dine with Patsy Cline”

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (doors open at 6 p.m.)

Where: Ford Family Recital Hall and pavilion, 260 W. Front St., Youngstown

Seating: Table seating $25; call 330-744-0264 or go to YoungstownSymphony.com

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

Maureen Collins, co-founder of Easy Street Productions, will star in her own musical tribute to the Queen of Country Music, Patsy Cline, this weekend.

“Wine and Dine with Patsy Cline” will feature all of the songs that made Cline famous, as well as stories, insights and treasured moments that spanned the entertainer’s brief but iconic career. The cabaret show by Easy Street Productions will be performed Friday and Saturday at Ford Family Recital Hall, downtown.

Collins is no stranger to Cline’s music.

Easy Street Productions was among the very first theatrical companies in the country to produce and direct the musical “Always, Patsy Cline” in the 1990s. Permission to perform the musical was granted by Cline’s estate due to Collins’ uncanny ability to recreate Cline’s vocals.

The Easy Street musical enjoyed two successful runs at Powers Auditorium and again at Packard Music Hall in 1996 and 1997.

In more recent years, Collins has performed her own personal tribute to the artist by focusing on Cline’s music rather than impersonating her appearance with wigs and costumes.

Todd Hancock, Easy Street’s other co-founder, will join in this weekend’s cabaret shows with his own salute to Johnny Cash. The program will feature the greatest hits of both Cline and Cash, including “Crazy,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and “Always,” and Cash’s “Folsom Prison” and “I Walk the Line.”

The cabaret show will include table seating and a wait staff serving a wide variety of beer, wine and specialty cocktails. A small plate menu will also be available, prepared by Chef Jeff Chrystal.

Collins discussed Patsy Cline and the show in this exchange:

Q. When did you first become aware of Patsy Cline?

A. My father Raymond was born in Knoxville, Tenn. He was a “hillbilly at heart” so I was aware of Patsy Cline at a very young age. He even tried to get me to listen to Eddie Arnold! My love for country music goes way back.

Q. How long have you been singing Cline’s music?

A. I always knew Patsy classics “Walking After Midnight” and “Crazy,” but it wasn’t until 1996 when I played the role of Patsy in “Always, Patsy Cline” that I learned what a treasure she truly was. In her short lifetime and even shorter career, Patsy sang her way into so many hearts. She became a legend to me that year and I’ve been singing her songs ever since.

Q. Are there any particular favorites you will be performing this weekend, and why?

A. My list of favorite Patsy songs is pretty huge. I love singing her up-tempo classics “Bill Bailey,” “Gotta Lotta Rhythm in my Soul,” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” but it’s the heartfelt songs that tell simple stories like “She’s Got You,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “Always” that are my favorite to perform.

Q. What do you have planned for your audiences besides Patsy’s music?

A. While researching for this tribute I learned some interesting tidbits about her that I think audiences would enjoy hearing.

For example, while under contract to Four Star Records she recorded 51 singles and not one of them hit the charts. That’s so hard for me to believe.”

Q. Why do you think Patsy Cline’s music has endured over the decades?

A. Patsy Cline was one of the first country artists to cross over. Her music became popular in more than one genre. Her story is really remarkable. Becoming a star in the 1950s and ’60s was a lot harder than today.

Artists had to play most every night in bars and ballrooms to secure any chance of having a DJ play their records. I think her music is still being played today because it is so heartfelt.

The songs themselves were great, but it was the way that she sang them that has made her music so timeless. I hope to capture that and make all of those who miss Patsy Cline and her music happy this weekend.