Friendship and feminism take the stage next week in Lawton Community Theatre’s production of “Always … Patsy Cline.”
The two-person musical cast will feature Mandee Thomas as Patsy Cline and Allison Offield as Louise Seger. It will be directed by LCT’s Chance Harmon in his directorial debut with the theatre.
“Always … Patsy Cline” is an intimate musical that centers around the friendship between country singer Patsy Cline and her longtime fan Louise Seger. Filled with country humor, real emotion and audience participation, the musical includes several of Cline’s biggest hits including “I Fall to Pieces” and “Walking After Midnight.”
“What’s cool about directing this show is that (Thomas and Offield) are already good friends,” Harmon said. “That really shines when they are in shows together.”
And neither actress is a stranger to the stage.
Thomas went to school at the University of Central Oklahoma where she started out as a musical theatre major, though eventually switched to voice performance.
“I started working professionally for Lyric Theatre in the city. I did that for a couple of years during college,” Thomas said.
After her mother fell ill, Thomas returned to Lawton where she dropped out of acting for a time. Then, a year after her son was born, she was convinced to audition for a production of “Fiddler on the Roof” at LCT in 2006; she was casted as Yente.
“That got me started back. Whenever I could after that I would volunteer to be on this stage,” Thomas said.
Offield’s first time on the stage came at Centenary United Methodist Church where she says she was “roped in” to a production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” A few more church plays later and she found herself on stage with Blue Moon Theatre.
“It has been a few years since I’ve been on stage. The last play I did with LCT was as drunk as cooter brown in ‘Rumors,’” Offield said.
Offield and Thomas’ friendship and sisterhood shines on stage according to Harmon, who said directing them is a thrill.
And for Thomas, who came into the roll with a limited understanding of who Patsy Cline was, the role as been revelatory.
“She has done her homework,” Harmon said.
Thomas said, despite not being a country music fan, she has fallen head over heels in love with the singer.
“She was such a feminist. She was fiercely independent, and she broke down so many barriers. She was so gifted and generous, but also very sad. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her,” Thomas said.
“I really just want audiences to have fun. We’ve all been separate for so long, and there’s been an awful lot to laugh about,” Offield said.
“I just want people to walk away from this show and feel empowered,” Thomas said. “This woman was a powerhouse and I want audiences to walk away more confident and secure in who they are.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the performances of “Always …Patsy Cline” will not be held, as LCT’s shows usually are, in the John Denney Theatre. Instead, all performances will take place in the McMahon Memorial Auditorium.