A brand new original musical being staged by the Balor Reps in Ballybofey next month pays tribute to a young influential singer who tragically died in a place crash at the height of her career in 1963.
The Patsy Cline Show, written by Balor Arts Cenre’s own manager Conor Malone, will run for three nights from July 4 to 6.
In an effort to raise much-needed funds for the theatre and the Balor DCA Community Arts Group, over 20 people, from musicians, actors to backstage staff, have given their time free of charge to stage the show.
The Balor’s manager, Conor Malone said the idea to put on a show about Patsy Cline came following the success of the Balor Reps’ production of The Tammy Wynette Story.
“The show was first staged in January 2009 and following that it had three more phenomenally successful runs selling out at the Balor, An Grianán Theatre (Letterkenny), The Alley Centre (Strabane) and The Abbey Centre (Ballyshannon),” said Conor.
“Director Kieran Quinn wanted to follow up the Tammy story with a musical about Patsy Cline and got a hold of two different scripts, but unfortunately could not obtain the rights to either of them.”
So rather than give up on the idea, Conor offered his services to right a script himself for Kieran.
No stranger to writing scripts, having studied screen-writing for film at university, Conor was very willing to having a go at writing the story.
“I’ve written scripts before, but this was my very first one for a stage production and my first in ten years. I started doing my research in October, initially reading up on Patsy Cline and taking notes of major points in her life out of different books before piecing them together.”
There were to advantages to writing a musical about Patsy Cline, Conor said: “First of all, Patsy was a really remarkable woman who had achieved so much by the time she died at the age of 30 and secondly she was first major female crossover artist to top both the County and Pop charts in America having a huge influence on the world of music.”
An integral part of the show is of course Patsy’s music and the Balor Reps production features 20 of her biggest hits from her huge back catalogue they were able to choose from.
Conor said: “Obviously Patsy’s music is going to be the main attraction of our show, so the real challenge here was to write a musical where people will leave saying ‘that was a good story’, too.”
Once the script was finished and the actors started rehearsing, Conor sat into a few of the readings.
“It was very gratifying to hear from the director and the actors that the dialogue ‘lifted off’ the pages very well, I got a great buzz out of that and it has been very rewarding.”
“It was certainly a new experience for me, but one I really enjoyed and if the time allows it, I will continue writing as I have a few ideas.”
But Conor is not going to actually see the full show himself as he was also asked to take on a ‘small’ role in the Balor Reps production.
“At first I thought I’d write the script and then leave them to it, but then they cast me in the role of Joltin’ Jim McCoy, who was the disc jockey that first discovered Patsy at the age of 14 and was a close friend.”
Conor admitted that a walk on role during the Balor Reps production of Juno And The Paycock has been the extent of his acting career so far.
“I’m under no illusions about my career, first and foremost I will always be the theatre manager, then comes writing and acting is in a very distant third place,” he laughed.
“I’m not sure I will be doing much acting in future, but it has certainly given me a much better appreciation of the craft and how it’s transformed from a script into the stage play.”
The show features some top class local talent from Catie Bradley in the starring role of Patsy Cline, Paddy McMenamin and Ciaran Griffiths who also featured in the last Balor Reps production, Women On The Verge Of HRT, said Conor.
“The cast is brilliant. We have a lot of the musicians from the Tammy show back and then of course Catie B is playing Patsy after the great job she did as Tammy Wynette.
“I’m really looking forward to it now and we hope that it will be just as successful as the last musical and it will be very fitting that we pay tribute to such a big American Country legend, opening on the night of Independence Day,” he said.
Tickets for The Patsy Cline Show at the Balor Arts Centre can be booked with the box office on Tel 07491 31840