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'She's Got You': Patsy Cline-inspired dinner theater offers history, fun for fans

Warner Crocker, director at Wayside Theatre, left, and Colt Nutter, executive director and event producer at Historic Jordan Springs, discuss the dinner theater, “Always … Patsy Cline,” which will begin at Jordan Springs in Stephenson on July 9. Dennis Grundman/Daily (Buy photo)

If You Go

"Always ... Patsy Cline," which will play at Historic Jordan Springs at 1160 Jordan Springs Road in Stephenson, will run from July 9 through Aug. 1. Evening performances will be July 9-11, 15, 17, 21-24 and 29-31 with dinner at 6 p.m. and a show at 7:30 p.m. Matinees will run July 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, 31 and Aug. 1 with lunch at 12:30 p.m. and the show at 2 p.m. Evening tickets are $65 for dinner and a show and afternoon tickets are $55 for lunch and a show. Tickets for just a show are $35. Some performances are already sold out. For more information, call Historic Jordan Springs at 667-7744.

From left, Paul Callahan, light designer for the Wayside Theatre, talks with Crocker, Nutter and Wayside light designer Wes Calkin about transforming a ballroom at Jordan Springs into a theater. Dennis Grundman/Daily (Buy photo)

Jordan Springs and Wayside Theatre will collaborate for the first time on the upcoming dinner theater. Dennis Grundman/Daily (Buy photo)

By Josette Keelor -- jkeelor@nvdaily.com

STEPHENSON -- Those who love history, theater and the music of Patsy Cline would be "crazy" to miss the upcoming opportunity to catch all three in the same place beginning July 9 at Historic Jordan Springs in Stephenson.

"This is the first time ever partnering with the Wayside Theatre in Middletown," says Colt Nutter, executive director and event producer at Jordan Springs. "We decided to partner with them for a number of reasons."

Jordan Springs owner Tonie Wallace was on the Wayside board for many years, says Nutter, himself also a fan of the stage. Both enjoyed the opportunity to offer a dinner theater at the estate in Frederick County.

"This will hopefully be the first of many [with Wayside]," he says.

The dinner theater, which will run July 9 through Aug. 1, will feature the music of Cline, a Winchester native, and will tell the true story of Cline's friendship with Louise Sager, played by Lori Staley.

"Patsy and Louise met and then became lifelong pen pals," says Wayside director Warner Crocker.

"Always ... Patsy Cline," which Wayside has performed in the past, will feature Nancy O'Bryan, who has performed nationally as Cline and performed with Wayside in last year's "Man of La Mancha."

When Jordan Springs proposed the plan, Wayside jumped on board.

"We are always looking for ways to expand our revenue opportunities," says Crocker. "We need to be able to do multiple productions at multiple times," he says, explaining that when O'Bryan and Staley begin rehearsing next week, the cast at Wayside will also begin rehearsals for "Dead Man's Cell Phone," which begins July 17.

"Both of them should be equally compelling," Crocker says.

He explains that branching out into the community allows the theater to reach people it might not otherwise.

"We sell a lot of single tickets to people who don't normally come to the theater," he says. "Our mission is to do a wide range of opportunities."

With the economy affecting the theater's income, on top of the expense of recent renovations, Wayside looks for chances to branch out, he says.

"A part of our expansion plans ... was to include a small black box theater," he says. "It [the dinner theater] looked like a way to give that a shot."

Besides the actual performance and meal, audience members and the community at large will have more opportunities to participate in the fun.

Nutter describes the plan for "Patsy Cline Sightings" this Tuesday, when O'Bryan will ride around in an antique convertible to seven locations of significance to Cline during her life in Winchester. There she will meet with fans and sign autographs. The first person to arrive at Jordan Springs with a signature from Patsy Cline and deliver it to Nutter will win two tickets for dinner and a show of their choice, Nutter says.

A Sing-a-Like at 6:30 p.m. on July 10 will offer a lucky Patsy Cline devotee the opportunity to sing on-stage with O'Bryan during a performance.

"It will be a judged competition," Crocker says. Anyone who thinks she sings like Cline is invited to participate, he says.

Celebrating Patsy Cline is also on board, Crocker says. The local organization will provide relics from Cline's life for viewing as part of the dinner theater.

"Patsy Cline, I think, is something that people both locally and from all over ... have a great affinity for Patsy and her music," he says.

He is excited to work again with O'Bryan.

"We've not had her in the role before," he says. He had not realized, when O'Bryan earned the role of Aldonza in "Man of La Mancha," that she makes her living playing Cline around the country.

"It was kind of natural for us to ask her to join us in this venture," he says.

"[This is] really an experiment, if you will, to find out if the concept works," he says. "We've really got three valley organizations working together here for the success [of the show], which I think is very exciting."


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