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Originally published Friday, February 13, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Play sings Patsy Cline back to life at ACT

After a hit run in Federal Way, "Always ... Patsy Cline" comes up to Seattle for a short stint at ACT Theatre. The Centerstage Theatre production plays Feb. 12-March 8 at the Bullitt Cabaret.

Seattle Times theater critic

Theater preview

"Always ... Patsy Cline"

Plays Thursdays-Sundays through March 8 (with an added performance Wednesday, March 4), at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle; $25-$35 (206-292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org).

"I Fall to Pieces." "Crazy." "Sweet Dreams (of You)." "Walkin' After Midnight."

Country-music queen Patsy Cline lives on, in her long-ago hits. That deep molasses voice, that soulful Shenandoah sultriness, that fine-tuned phrasing — they never go out of style.

Her sound is revived in "Always ... Patsy Cline," a Centerstage Theatre production that opens tonight at ACT Theatre.

Created by writer-director Ted Swindley in 1988, this play with music views Cline from the perspective of her close friend, Louise Seger. Seger hears the shocking news of Cline's death at age 30 (in a 1963 plane crash), and fondly recalls the famed singer in musical and dramatic flashbacks.

This simple format, with ample room for Cline's hit tunes, has helped to make "Always ... Patsy Cline," a reliable box-office draw at theaters around the country — including Federal Way's Centerstage, among other local playhouses.

Yet the ACT run of "Always ... Patsy Cline" — featuring a live band and appealing vocalist Cayman Ilika as Cline — is, rather surprisingly, said to be the show's professional debut in Seattle.

And while it covers much of the same biographical terrain that the 1985 hit biopic "Sweet Dreams" starring Jessica Lange did — Cline's rise to fame, her tumultuous marriage — that is not the show's main attraction.

The biggest magnet is that generous helping of grand ol' torch-and-twang — Patsy Cline-style.

Misha Berson:mberson@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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