When actress Maggy Norden used to sing her go-to karaoke song, "Crazy," by Patsy Cline at bars, she never envisioned she'd play the legendary country artist in multiple productions.
It was after one such karaoke session that a friend approached Norden about playing Cline in "Always ... Patsy Cline," at University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for the Arts. The play was so well-received that Norden is reviving the role for a new one-woman show called "A Date with Patsy Cline" opening at ARTworks on April 4.
"I was always a big fan of hers because I loved singing her songs, and when I started doing research, I was really fascinated by her life," Norden said.
Patsy Cline was a country music pioneer in the late 1950s and early '60s who successfully crossed over into pop music. She died in 1963 in a plane crash at age 30. Ten years after her death, she would be the first female solo artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
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"She was the Adele of 1960," Norden said, describing Cline's voice and far-reaching influence. "She paved the way for people like Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn."
For "A Date with Patsy Cline," Norden will sing 20 songs interspersed with dialogue that gives insight into the singer's personal life. Norden will sing all of Cline's famous hits, including "Crazy," "Sweet Dreams" and "I Fall To Pieces," and she'll sing some of her lesser-known songs as well.
"Anybody who is a Patsy Cline fan, I'm sure I'm singing any song that they ever knew," Norden said. "They will be surprised to hear some of the things I'm going to tell them about her life story. They will probably come away liking her more."
The first time Norden played Cline in "Always ... Patsy Cline," she co-starred with director Gail Westerfield. In her latest solo production, Norden is doing all the singing and talking. It's been more difficult to memorize lines without any prompts from another person, Norden said, but helps that the role is familiar. In some ways, Norden feels a connection to Cline.
"We both don't know how to read music and don't know what key we sing in. She didn't have any formal training in singing and neither did I," Norden said.
Physically, however, it takes a wig, a dark eyebrow pencil and heavy lip liner to transform Norden into her country music idol.
Norden estimates she's spent hundreds of hours researching the singer, checking out every book in the library that even mentioned Patsy Cline.
For the past three months, Patsy Cline has been all that plays on her iPod.
"My friends will ask me, 'Don't you ever get sick of it?'" Norden said.
Follow Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.