Lauded as one of the best vocalists of our time, Opry favorite Mandy Barnett is set to reprise her role as the great Patsy Cline in “Always… Patsy Cline” at the Ryman Auditorium later this summer. Mandy has just released SWEET DREAMS, a new CD featuring some of the same Patsy classics fans have come to love as part of the live production. Read more about “Always… Patsy Cline” and SWEET DREAMS at Ryman.com. Mandy shares what she most loves about playing Patsy at the Ryman below.
1. Honoring Patsy’s Legacy
As we all know, Patsy Cline was one of the all-time greatest singers in country music or any genre, for that matter. It truly is such an honor to portray her. Her memory and her music are precious to so many people. I’m reminded of that every time I don my “Patsy” costumes and wigs and take to the Ryman stage. Through “Always…Patsy Cline,” I’ve met Patsy’s family – husband Charlie, children Julie and Randy, and Patsy’s grandchildren. All of them have shared cherished memories and thoughts of Patsy with me. They are special people, and in my portrayal of Patsy, I try my hardest to do my very best for them and for Patsy herself.
2. Singing on the Same Stage as Patsy
What’s not to love about singing on the same Ryman stage where Patsy herself performed the very same spectacular songs? When I’m on that stage in “Always…Patsy Cline,” I often make eye contact with various audience members who catch my attention: wonderful artists like Bill Anderson, The Jordanaires, and Jan Howard – people who toured or recorded with Patsy, knew and loved her, and were friends with her — and then artists like Reba McEntire and Pam Tillis, among many others, who were influenced by Patsy. It’s an incredible experience performing for people who actually knew Patsy, along with her adoring fans and artists whom Patsy inspired.
3. My Co-star Tere Myers
The first time I met Tere, we were in the restroom in a rehearsal hall. She had just arrived from Houston and was wearing a bright sun dress and a big straw hat. We hit it off immediately, standing over the sink for a good forty-five minutes just chatting away. The friendship between Tere’s character (Louise) and my character (Patsy, of course) seems so strong and real on stage because Tere and I are actually great friends. After each performance of “Always…Patsy Cline,” Tere and I meet audience members, and most of them comment on our terrific stage chemistry. The chemistry is based on an appreciation of each other’s talents and our sharing of many laughs and great adventures over the years. Tere as “Louise” is so hysterically funny; it’s often difficult to remain in character when I sometimes want to burst out laughing with the rest of the audience, especially when Tere picks a rambunctious dancing partner during the Esquire Ballroom scene. Tere has been kissed, groped, pinched and nearly had her back thrown out in these dancing moments, and it’s hard not to totally fall apart laughing as I watch the comical scene unfold.
4. The Fantastic Wardrobe (and Wardrobe Malfunctions!)
I adore my “Always…Patsy Cline” costumes. They are so fun and empowering to wear, taking me back to that extraordinary era during which Patsy made amazing music and delighted fans. But becoming “Patsy” is no easy feat when I have to do quick costume and wig changes between scenes during each show performance! I have a dresser who helps me make the fast transitions – from cowgirl get-up to sparkling red dress to little black dress, and more, along with an array of wig changes. Most of the time, everything runs pretty smoothly, but I’ve certainly had an occasional costume malfunction, such as a zipper or piece of jewelry that breaks at an inconvenient time or a wig that feels like it’s sliding out of place while I’m singing.
One especially memorable wardrobe malfunction involved earrings that were basically on their last legs. When the earrings finally broke, on a show night, I panicked, but my dresser was resourceful and prepared. She grabbed my Lifesaver candies and a glue gun and proceeded to glue pearls in the middle of the candies, and then glued clips on the candies. I went back out on stage with Lifesavers on my ears, over the course of several show nights, and no one knew any better.
5. The Audience
Simply stated, it is a total joy to look out from the Ryman stage and see audience members smiling back at me as I sing enduring classics dressed as a beloved icon. Thank you, folks, for making “Always…Patsy Cline” an exceptional experience, night after night, for me!