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Patsy Cline Musical Hits Broadway With Bowersox

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.

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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.

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