Summer title joins a trendlet of pop, rock and R&B making its way to New York stages
Add Patsy Cline to the list of music acts making their way to Broadway, with tuner “Always … Patsy Cline” aiming for a Rialto run this summer in a production that stars “American Idol” alum Crystal Bowersox.
With a song list that includes both Cline tunes and a selection of other country standards, “Always” draws its score from a roster of pre-existing songs in the same way as April openers “Motown” and “The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream.” Also on the Broadway slate this season are musicals with new, original songs by Cyndi Lauper (“Kinky Boots”) and Trey Anastasio of the jam-rock band Phish (“Hands on a Hardbody”). Meanwhile, a musical by Barry Manilow, “Harmony,” is on tap next season for regional stagings that Gotham legiters will likely be keeping an eye on.
As the current Broadway lineup makes clear, a link to a body of familiar songs doesn’t guarantee strong B.O., but sometimes it does work. “Motown,” for instance, started logging million-dollar weeks right out of the gate; “Hands on a Hardbody,” on the other hand, has only once topped $200,000 in the approximately four weeks it’s been running.
Similarly, the profile boost of an “American Idol” alum isn’t always a sales boon for tuners, but it can be. When Fantasia Barrino went into “The Color Purple” in 2007, box office spiked dramatically, revitalizing the flagging musical.
Bowersox will play the titular country singer in the 1988 musical about the musician’s relationship with a devoted fan, Louise Seger, to be played by Annette O’Toole. Centerpiece of the production is a recreation of Cline’s 1961 live concert at the Esquire Ballroom in Houston, where Cline met Seger.
John Rando, whose Broadway staging of the musical version of “A Christmas Story” proved a major B.O. performer over the holidays, helms the show by Ted Swindley. Bowersox was a finalist on the ninth season of “Idol” and has since released two albums.
With a set design by Anna Louizos (“Cinderella”), “Always … Patsy Cline” is set to begin perfs in July prior to an August opening at a Broadway theater to be determined. Jimmy Burke and Jeff Cohen of Burke-Cohen Entertainment produce.