Honky-Tonk Tribute

Her career lasted eight years. Her legacy has lasted for more than 40. When Patsy Cline died in a plane crash in 1963, she'd released only three albums. Hundreds of reissues, compilations and tribute albums later, Cline's become a cultural icon, a role she probably would have hated, according to actress Lisa Fogel, who plays the singer in Always . . . Patsy Cline, a musical chronicling Cline's relationship with housewife Louise Seger.

Seger, an avid fan, met Cline in 1961, at a performance in Houston. She gave Cline her contact information, but never expected to hear from the country star. To Seger's surprise, Cline soon sent a letter, and continued to call and write for the next two years.

"Louise thought Patsy was this big star, but Patsy was like everybody else and didn't want to be put on a pedestal," Fogel says. "So the play is about how approachable she was. It wasn't like today, where there are big stars that are inaccessible. Patsy was always real and there for you."

Seger and Cline's correspondence centered on their experiences as wives and mothers. Cline wrote extensively about her crumbling marriage to her second husband, Charlie Dick, and the two women often discussed child-rearing.

For her part, Lisa Fogel trained in music theory, but mimicking Cline's famous country croon presented a challenge. Fogel spent hours listening to every song, and writing down every vocal trick she heard. "Every pause, every hiccup, every scoop -- I noted that," says Fogel, even referencing "diphthongs" (two vowels pronounced in a single-syllable sound).

"I was going against a lot of the traditional training I've had to sing country," says Fogel, who sings 27 songs in the play. "I was also a little intimidated, knowing that she had such a large audience and people who still cherish her and her music, and I thought, 'If I don't do a believable impression of Patsy Cline, the show might not work.'"