Walk right in and sit right down.
Imagine it’s half a century ago. You’re one of the lucky ones with a ticket in hand to see country legend Patsy Cline sing her heart out.
Bonnie Kilroe of Celebrity Imposters has been around the world with suitcases full of costumes and wigs, doing her version of superstar acts like Patsy Cline, Cher, Barbra Streisand and even Lady Gaga.
Now she’s coming to Chilliwack on Sunday, May 8 to perform two shows at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, with a show she calls simply “Mother’s Day with Patsy Cline.”
“I was always a mimic,” she tells The Progress.
It started at the family’s kitchen table with her doing comedic impressions of relatives. Then it grew into dinner theatre, celebrity telegrams, cruise shows, lounge singing and a burgeoning career doing superstar impersonations.
Kilroe always adds a dose of humour, and subtitles herself as “the farce to be reckoned with.”
“Growing up all over the Lower Mainland, from Richmond and Delta, to Surrey and Cloverdale, I first remember being drawn to the limelight as a pre-teen.
“My cousin Danny and I wore out multiple Patsy Cline cassette tapes during frequent dramatic sing-alongs.”
But of all the artists she does, Patsy Cline holds a special place in her heart. She’ll be pulling out all the stops for her best solo impersonation of the one and only Patsy Cline, who died in a plane crash in 1963.
It began in 1990 when she tried out for the lead in an Arts Club production of A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline.
“I started becoming interested in Patsy before the play even came out, and I was basically a Patsy Cline nut.”
She was very green, and beyond excited, dashing out to rent a wig for the occasion. At the audition she sang an obscure Patsy song or two.
She didn’t get the role.
But it turned out to be the major catalyst for her career anyway.
“All these weird things fell into place.”
It all started coming together and the Patsy Cline impersonation is the only one she does for an entire one-woman performance.
“My show grew out of being tired of waiting for the phone to ring when I was in film and television,” she said. “It was a wonderful discovery for me as it is truly an expression of who I am.”
With Kilroe’s natural comic timing, striking looks and versatile vocals, it was natural for her to want to create a musical stage show with a comic edge.
“I love to bring comedy to my show and they may not expect it, but I will also deliver the beautiful, vulnerable emotion of her music.”
The performer who lives in East Vancouver says she can also relate to the singer’s down-to-earth personality, even in the face of adversity.
“She was a very jovial woman.”
Cline’s haunting and honey soprano voice has influenced a wide range of artists as Loretta Lynn and Linda Ronstadt, to Bryan Adams and K.D. Lang. The “one and only” title was actually bestowed on Cline by Johnny Cash.
“I love her music so much,” Kilroe says about the rich, honeyed tone of the singer’s voice. “Patsy was my first inspiration as a singer, and no other music called to me until I heard Judy Garland, then later, in my mid-20s, it was Barbra Streisand.”
She’s been making appearances as Cline around town in recent weeks in full costume to promote the May 8 show, anywhere from the Plant A Row/Grow a Row launch at Gwynne Vaughan Park, to the Martini Mingle at Earls this week.
She has a strong connection to Chilliwack these days, coming into town often to visit her sisters, aunt and uncle who all live here.
“It’s the reason I chose to do my show there.”
So even if you have never heard of songs like I Fall To Pieces, Walkin’ After Midnight or Crazy you will walk away a fan of both performers. Check out Kilroe as Patsy Cline on Youtube http://www.yousendit.com/download/bFlIeEVjR3NOQnl4dnc9PQ or http://www.celebrity-imposters.com
A Special Mother’s Day with Patsy Cline starring Bonnie Kilroe on Sunday, May 8, for two shows at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets $34/$29.