May 02--Laura Martier listens to Patsy Cline's music all the time.
She knows the music and the lyrics, and she works to perfect every vowel sound and every crack in her voice when she performs the songs that made Cline famous.
"It's really fun to take on another character," Martier said last month during her first visit to the Boykin Center where she will star in "A Portrait of Patsy Cline" during Theater of the American South May 16-27.
Country music singer Patsy Cline was a big star in the late 1950s and early 1960s belting out such hits as "Crazy," "I Fall to Pieces" and "Just A Closer Walk with Thee." She died in an airplane crash in 1963, but her popularity continued and millions of her records have been sold since her death.
In "A Portrait of Patsy Cline," audiences will be treated to Martier's interpretation of Cline's hits backed by a live band with seven musicians. The show is basically a concert of Cline's work with a little dialog about Cline.
Martier, a freelance vocalist who lives on the Outer Banks, did the show for the Outer Banks Forum for Living Arts Series. The show was a huge success.
That show is being recreated for the Wilson festival and is presented by Elizabeth R and Company of Manteo.
Festival managing director Allen Reep said the show was authored and produced by North Carolinians and features N.C. entertainers. And although he hasn't seen the show, he's heard about Martier's performance.
"From all accounts, she channels Patsy Cline," he said. "She becomes Patsy Cline."
Martier, who previously worked in Los Angeles doing commercials and film sound tracks for Orion Pictures, said she admires Cline's voice.
"Every note she sings is spot on," she said. "She nails every note. No one sings like her. People do try, and you will hear me try."
Martier, a jazz singer, said she has good ears and can reproduce what she hears in Cline's songs.
"I'm really having a good time with it," she said, adding she makes her interpretation as accurate as possible.
Martier has listened to all of Cline's music and said she knows all of her songs and feels the emotion.
"You can hear her smile when she sings; you can hear her pain."
Martier said she is becoming more and more comfortable becoming Patsy Cline for the stage.
"It's fun to dress up like her," she said.
Martier said her past audiences have responded well to her shows. The generation who grew up listening to Cline often cries when they hear songs they danced to at proms or listened to on dates.
"People get really emotional," she said.
Her favorites from the show, which includes around three dozen songs, are "If You've Got Leaving On Your Mind" and "Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray."
The band for "A Portrait of Patsy Cline" is The Tumbling Humble Weeds based in the Tidewater Virginia, and Outer Banks region.
Band members are Charlie Austin, fiddle; Skip Hancock, piano; Joe Mapp, guitar; Dan Martier, drums and music director for the show; Bill Rea, bass; Muskrat Reames, pedal steel; and Mick Vaughn, bass.
Theater of the American South will be two weekends this year instead of three.
"A Portrait of Patsy Cline" at the Boykin Center and "A Return to Concord, Virginia" featuring Peter Neofotis, at the Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell Theater are the two centerpiece plays.
On the first Saturday of this year's celebration of Southern culture (May 18), there will be a Salute to Wilson with a celebration of quilts as well as crafts, art and music. Food from Bill's and Parker's barbecue restaurants will be for sale. A cooking demonstration will be held at City Market Cafe and Catering by executive chef Peter Beard.
The second weekend of the festival (which is also Memorial Day weekend) starts on Wednesday this year with a showing of "A Portrait of Patsy Cline." That Saturday will include a talk by Neofotis and a return of Barbecue Bash with pitmaster Ed Mitchell for lunch and supper.
The festival wraps up on a Monday this year, Memorial Day, with presentations of both plays; Wilson's Memorial Day ceremony is included in the festival's calendar.
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