By TONY TAGLAVORE
Most of her 44 years, Jessica Brock has been around music.
She grew up in Baton Rouge performing with her sisters, went to Northwestern State University on a Theatre/Choral scholarship, and for years has performed in the Shreveport-Bossier area as a member of two popular cover bands.
But none of that compares to what she is about to do.
September 1st, Brock will star as the late singer Patsy Cline, in the play ‘Always…Patsy Cline’. The show is scheduled for seven performances through September 10th at Shreveport Little Theatre.
“This is my first leading role,” Brock told the Shreveport-Bossier Journal. “Over the last three years, I’ve dabbled in some musical theatre with my girlfriends, but this is my first time to star in a show since I was in high school when I played Sandy in “Grease.”
‘Always…Patsy Cline’ is the true story of Cline’s friendship with a pen pal, Louise Seger (played by
Kim Price.) The show is based around the letters Cline and Seger wrote each other.
“They got to know each other personally,” show director Robert Darrow said. “They shared stories of their kids, their personal lives, and Patsy’s unhappy marriage. She had several marriages.”
For the married mother of two, Brock’s performance will be personal.
“I grew up on Patsy’s music…My grandmother used to put me to bed listening to Patsy’s music. My father was a huge musical theatre fan and introduced us to the arts. I feel like I get to honor my own family by playing this role. As a vocalist, I’ve adored her for years. This is an honor for me, and I hope I do Patsy justice.”
Brock will perform close to 30 of Cline’s songs.
“I love Patsy’s music, so I was familiar with most of her hits,” Brock said. “However, this show is going to cover 27 of her hits, including some songs she covered for people. I started working on this music this past January or February, trying to emulate her phrasing and vocal stylings.”
From what Darrow has heard in rehearsals, Brock’s work has paid off.
“Exceptional,” the veteran director said of Brock’s performance. “I don’t know if I’ve ever said that (of one performer) in my 50 years of theatre.”
Darrow isn’t surprised. He chose Brock to play the part.
“Ninety-Nine percent of our shows, we hold auditions. There are open casting calls. However, when you have a show that hinges on one actor, and that actor has to have specific talents, we don’t gamble that somebody that fits that role is just going to show up. Jessica performed last season in a series of plays.
I heard the quality of her voice, and her sound, and I immediately thought of Patsy Cline, and how wonderful Jessica would be in that role—and I was right.”
Cline was destined for a long, successful career, but she died in a 1963 plane crash. Cline was just 30 years old.
“I just could not love Patsy Cline any more,” Brock said. “She lived a hard life. It was a very tragic story. I don’t know that she knew how famous she would be. I believe she became famous posthumously. She was incredible.”
If you attend ‘Always…Patsy Cline’, be prepared to do more than sit.
“Those that attended her concerts in the late 1950’s and early 60’s said she was a people-person. She made you feel right at home. My goal in this role is to make everyone feel like they’re part of the Grand Ole Opry, or a part of this concert. They get to hoop and holler and clap and be part of the show as well. We want you to feel like you’re at home while you’re attending.”
Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com