Becoming Patsy: Actress Maggy Norden talks about her role in 'Always ... Patsy Cline'

Becoming Patsy Cline
Becoming Patsy Cline Sarah Welliver

While preparing for the upcoming production of "Always ... Patsy Cline," actress Maggy Norden was doing more than just memorizing lines. She was also learning to yodel.

"I realized there was a lot of growling in yodeling," Norden said. "You can't just sing the song. You have to sound like Patsy, which isn't easy to do. She's quite a singer."

Cline, who is best known for her late 1950s, early '60s pop country pieces such as "Crazy," "She's Got You," "I Fall to Pieces" and "Sweet Dreams," died in a plane crash in 1963 at age 30.

"Always ... Patsy Cline" is based on a true story, focusing on the friendship between Cline and a fan from Texas named Louise Seger. The play follows the life of the singer through her letter correspondence with Seger over several years. Throughout the show, Cline sings in all types of venues, showing her moving through her career.

Playing Cline is no ordinary role for Norden.

"I was big fan of all her mainstream hits," she said. "<2009>'Crazy' is one of my karaoke standards, I've benging it for 10 years."

The play, which is directed by Gail Westerfield who also stars as Seger, opens Friday at the University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for the Arts in Beaufort.

To prepare for the role, Norden watched the 1985 movie "Sweet Dreams" and a few documentaries about Cline. She also found snippets of Cline's performances on YouTube. Norden would watch a performance, pause it, then try to replicate it on her own.

"I'm really good with voices and faces, and for some reason I can sit at a computer and listen to a song for the first time, and sing it by the end," she said.

Norden has acting in her blood. She appeared in a few commercials when she was younger, and her brother played Bud in the popular television show "Flipper."

After college, Norden worked as part of a computer consulting firm. When she and her husband moved to Habersham, she returned to the stage. She has performed locally in "Talking With..." and "Steel Magnolias."

"Always ... Patsy Cline" features 25 songs from Cline's old days as a country singer to the end, when she was a crossover country and pop artist.

"When this opportunity came along, I was just flabbergasted because I just love Patsy Cline," she said. "As much as I like to act, I love to sing."


  • When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 and 15
  • Where: University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for the Arts, 801 Carteret St., Beaufort
  • Cost: $22 for adults; $19 for seniors and military; $10 for groups of 10 or more; $15 for students
  • Details: 843-521-4145. www.uscb.edu
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