Sweet dreams with Devra Straker as Patsy Cline

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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Growing up in Saltcoats, Sask., Devra Straker listened to Patsy Cline’s music.

Now, for the past eight years, she has been playing the iconic singer.

“Staying motivated to do this show is easy because of the story and because of the music. I love all kinds of music, but I love singing her music in particular,” she said. “Vocally, it’s challenging. She had an incredible range. So it’s not like every night you get out there and it’s always a super easy thing. You have to stay focused in the moment.”

Globe Theatre’s production of A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline will be at the Mae Wilson Theatre at the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. This will be Straker’s first time performing in Moose Jaw.

“It’s my favourite role to play and it’s one of my favourite shows to do,” she said. “My mom and dad definitely listened to her. I’d hear her and I wasn’t as familiar with everything way back when I was a kid (but) getting to portray her has definitely broadened my understanding of her music and of course her life.”

When the chance to play Cline first came her way in 2006, she sent a demo to the Patsy Cline Estate. The estate’s approval is required for anyone to portray Cline.

“That’s what got the ball rolling for me eight years ago,” said Straker. “I absolutely love it. It is such a gift to get to sing her music every night to do this show.”

Created by Dean Regan and directed by Geoffrey Whynot, the show follows the journey of Cline as she crossed over from pop to country music. There will be a live band and the story is told from a radio DJ’s point of view. All stars in the show are Saskatchewan artists.

The show includes hits such as Crazy and Walking After Midnight.

“I love that all these years after her death, which was in ’63, that people still want to hear her and want to learn about her,” said Straker. “That’s what this show does is tell her story from beginning to end.”

The Moose Jaw stop is one of several in the Saskatchewan-wide tour of the production, which played at Globe Theatre in Regina in 2011 and 2012. The show will travel from Saskatoon to Moose Jaw and then on to Swift Current, North Battleford, Yorkton, Shaunavon and Lloydminster.

Being a part of the touring show in her home province holds special meaning for Straker.

“Bringing it to places like Moose Jaw where I have family and Yorkton and so on, it means a lot,” she said. “It’s probably once in a lifetime thing for me. I probably will not get to do this show on tour of my home province again.”

Part of her role as Cline includes singing 24 songs every night. Sometimes she does two shows per day.

“For me personally and the show, my biggest challenge is staying vocally rested and being able to give the best performance I can every day when we do eight shows a week,” said Straker. “It’s a complete joy to do.”

She has been performing professionally for 18 years, but she has been singing and dancing since she was five-years-old or younger.

“It’s just always been a part of what I do and then I chose to attempt to pursue it as a career,” said Straker. “I’ve been very blessed that way in my work,” said Straker.

She is hoping to see a full crowd at her Moose Jaw show on Tuesday.

“I can guarantee they won’t be disappointed,” she said. “We’ve been in Saskatoon — it’ll be three weeks — and we’ve been sold out. There’s not a ticket to be had at this show.”

Tickets to the Moose Jaw show are $35 each plus charges. For tickets, visit the Cultural Centre box office, call 306-693-4700 or visit moosejawculture.com.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Globe Theatre, Moose Jaw Cultural Centre, Mae Wilson Theatre

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Yorkton Regina Swift Current North Battleford Shaunavon Lloydminster

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