Crazy for these shows: Willow Leaves welcomes reprise of Patsy Cline musical

Lisa Barrett, left, as Patsy Cline, with Naomi Fleetwood-Pyle as Louise Seger, Patsy's best friend, belt out a song during rehearsal for "Always Patsy Cline" in 2016. Carla Clark | For The Republic


People are crazy for two related local dinner theater musical productions that have sold out nearly every show for five years.

Crazy for tunes. Crazy like loons.

Crazy for lovin’ Patsy Cline’s greatest hits and more featured in “Sweet Dreams: A Tribute to Patsy Cline,” returning July 25 at Willow Leaves of Hope. The presentation is a tweaked stage show chock-full of 26 songs and the touching and nearly unbelievable-but-true story of the country superstar’s budding friendship with fan Louise Seger. The other production is “Always … Patsy Cline,” a fuller, more detailed version of the story and Cline’s life that ended at age 30 with a plane crash in 1963.

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The return engagement, with local singer Lisa Barrett as Cline and actress and sometimes-singer Naomi Fleetwood-Pyle as Seger, is by request of Willow Leaves operators, according to Fleetwood-Pyle. Last year, “Church Basement Ladies,” one of the comedies her troupe presented at the restaurant on the historic Hope town square, drew a Willow Leaves’ record 900-plus people over several weekends in sellout shows.

“People have been telling me for a while now that they’re ready to get out and do something,” Fleetwood-Pyle said, referring to closures and limitations posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said that, in the past, many people have seen more than once the music-heavy performance that includes song such as “Crazy,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Leavin’ On Your Mind” and others.

“We try to change it a little each time,” Fleetwood-Pyle said. “You would think that people might be weary of this show by now. But they still love it.”

Perhaps they love it even more now because life itself has been so crazy this calendar year. Barrett mentioned that people crave a departure from worries about everything from the virus to job losses.

“I think that people just want maybe one night where everything can seem normal again,” Barrett said. “And you know what they say: The show must go on.”

She said some people have wanted to know if their particular Patsy Cline favorites are in this presentation. Barrett said the set list includes every major hit from Cline’s shortened, six-year career plus some cuts from deeper in her collection. That includes a cover she performed of Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock.”

Barrett and Fleetwood-Pyle will offer that song as an arresting, energetic audience participation number.

While in the audience at previous performances, Fleetwood-Pyle has been known for her lighthearted banter.

“Is this your first husband, honey?” she will ask a woman at a table she selects at random. “Well — he probably wouldn’t have been my first pick.”

Fleetwood-Pyle’s own husband considers such good-natured craziness and frequently tells his wife that she’s “an attention junkie.” And if such is the case, the performer wants no intervention from such an addiction.

She and Barrett already are planning their next musical show called “The Great Women of Country Music.” It will feature the music of such legends as Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, The Judds, Lee Ann Womack and others.

“I have just really missed being able to bring the arts to people — especially when that’s one of the very things that can get people through hard times,” Barrett said.

Fleetwood-Pyle agreed.

“I know,” Fleetwood-Pyle said, “that I’m ready to be back onstage.”

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What: The musical, "Sweet Dreams," a tribute to late country singer Patsy Cline. Directed and produced by Naomi Fleetwood-Pyle and Lisa Barrett.

When: Doors open 5:30 p.m. July 25; Dinner served at 6 p.m. Show at 7 p.m.

Where: Willow Leaves of Hope, 326 Jackson St. in Hope.

Tickets: $26 per person, including a salad, dinner, dessert and the show.

Reservations and information: 812-546-0640.