New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

Did you know NJ Stage offers FREE Event Listings? Nearly 100,000 listings were viewed in January. Be sure to add your events to our calendar and get your shows noticed!

Joe Rapolla of Monmouth University talks about "Always, Patsy Cline"

By Gary Wien

originally published: 07/01/2016

Joe Rapolla of Monmouth University talks about "Always, Patsy Cline"(WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- Before Loretta and before Dolly, there was Patsy – Patsy Cline, whose hits like “Crazy” and “Sweet Dreams” heralded the cross-over of country music and pop. This summer, Shadow Lawn Stage, the professional theatre in residence at Monmouth University, will present Ted Swindley’s ode to her: Always, Patsy Cline. Shadow Lawn Stage (at Monmouth University in West Long Branch) presents "Always, Patsy Cline" July 6-16.

The show tells Patsy’s story through the eyes and words of Louise Seger, a Texas housewife who starts out as a Patsy fan, becomes a pen pal, and then blossoms into an incredible friendship.

Starring as Patsy is Reagan Richards, a renowned singer in her own right, who has sung with music greats such as Les Paul, Darlene Love, Ben E. King, Joan Jett, David Gray, Cheap Trick & many others. She is part of Williams Honor, the Jersey Shore’s first modern country duo, with multi-instrumentalist Gordon Brown. She begins work as Patsy in between her national radio tour, where she supporting their single, "Send It To Me," with performances all over the country celebrating the recent release of their self-titled CD. Under the music direction of George Wurzbach – formerly of the folk group Modern Man and a member of the Monmouth faculty – Ms. Richards will sing many of the Patsy Cline standards, including “I Fall To Pieces”, “Walking After Midnight” and 27 other tunes.

Under the direction of Maurice J. Moran, the role of Louise will be played by Katrina Ferguson, returning to Shadow Lawn after acclaimed performances in The Au Pair Man and Molly Sweeney. Ms. Ferguson recently won the Best Actress award at the Dorset Theatre Festival for her role of Eleanor of Aquitaine in Lion In Winter. Louise tells her story by conjuring memories of where and when she fell in love with Cline’s music: listening to the radio in her kitchen, meeting her at a local country bar, and seeing her live on stage with a band of country musicians.

New Jersey Stage spoke with Joe Rapolla, Chair of Monmouth's Music and Theatre Arts program about the play.

The article continues after this ad


What interested you about presenting this play?

We thought this was a great way to bridge music and musical theater. There's 27 songs in the show. It's like a concert with great storytelling. We have a great set being build and the band is on stage.

“Always Patsy Cline” features Reagan Richards on stage.  Are you hoping to bridge the gap between the local music scene and the theatre crowd?

Absolutely. It's a goal of the universities to have a strong connection to the local music and art scene overall. There's so much wonderful talent in this area and so much wonderful experience in music arts and entertainment business, it makes sense to connect that to what we're doing here at the University and specifically the performing arts and music industry programs.

But Reagan was obvious for this role particularly. We performed a Songwriters By The Sea show together with Eric Bazillion (of The Hooters), Williams Honor (with Gordon Brown and Reagan Richards), and my series partner Joe D'Urso in March. During that show Reagan sang an a Capello version of a Patsy Cline song. When I heard that and knew we were thinking about producing Always… Patsy Cline this summer, I kept that in mind and suggested to Reagan that she audition. Luckily she did and was available to do the show.

Considering Reagan is a performing country singer songwriter who is just finishing up a classic old-school national radio tour, she embodies the Spirit of the classic country singer and Patsy Cline herself.

What are your thought on Patsy Cline the artist? Were you a fan of her music?

Patsy Cline is an icon and we thought people would be interested in her story.

I am a big country music fan and spend a lot of time in Nashville. So I was very excited when we talked about doing the show.

In previous years, Shadow Lawn Stage has presented multiple productions during a summer but this is the only one this year.  Any particular reason for the change?

We're restructuring theater at Monmouth and we are offering more productions now throughout the year. We expect to have that roll into summer as well as we update the theater program and theater activities.

There is such an interest in theater in musical theater in this area. We're seeing that from the community and in the talent that's enrolling at Monmouth, across the University. So as we update the foundation offering we'll continue to increase the number of productions.  

Finally, are you involved in the creation of Monmouth University’s theatre season each year? If so, has the new season been set? Can you give any names of upcoming plays?

Yes, already planned for next year is a production of Spring Awakening curiously this fall, and Dancing at Lughnasa on the spring. The boom roasted student production may be the drowsy chaperone or some other fun show depending on membership next year.

There are other smaller theater productions throughout the year along with many other music shows and coral concerts.

All of our shows are open to the public. People can find more about our schedule of events by liking The Monmouth University Department of Music and Theater on Facebook or following us on Twitter @MonmouthUMusic.

For more by this author, click here

The Panto Company Presents "Beauty and the Beast" at The Newton Theatre
(NEWTON, NJ) -- When you think of a dying rose and a clock, candlestick andteapot who talk... you are thinking Beauty and the Beast. One of this season's spellbinding family shows from The Panto Company USA stars Dame Dotty Potty, Loopy Louie, Gaston, Belle and of course The Beast!  The company brings their show to The Newton Theatre on Sunday, March 3 at 3:00pm.
La Strada Ensemble Theater Presents "La Bella Familia" by Edwin Sanchez
(OCEAN GROVE, NJ) -- La Strada Ensemble Theater presents La Bella Familia by Edwin Sanchez from January 18-20.  The play deals with a Puerto Rican hit woman and the gentlest man in the world move next door to the neighbors from hell and everyone learns, the hard way, that family comes first.
Art House Productions Presents "The Passion Project" by Reid Farrington
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Art House Productions presents the unique theatrical experience that is Reid Farrington’s The Passion Project performed by Laura K. Nicoll.  Eight performances will take place from February 21st to March 3rd. The Passion Project is a 30 minute vibration between performance, film, and installation. Carl Th.Dreyer’s 1928 immortal masterpiece, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is the main narrative along with the history behind the making of the film, a discussion with a Danish archivist, the story of making this project, as well as Joan’s own story –– her trial, torture, and execution. The Passion Project explodes the film into the three dimensions; placing the audience inside the film, sitting next to Joan, subjecting them to the relentless rhythm of 35 mm film projection.
4th Wall Theatre Presents "Intimate Apparel" by Lynn Nottage
(MAPLEWOOD, NJ) -- 4TH WALL THEATRE continues its 22nd season with a one weekend run of Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel.  The show will be presented as part of the Black History Month celebrations on February 22, 23, and 24 at the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts in Maplewood, NJ.  The show is directed by 4th Wall Executive Director Gwen Ricks-Spencer.
East Lynne Theater, the Henry Sawyer Inn, and Twin Gable's Inn present Murder Mystery Weekends
(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- The award-winning East Lynne Theater Company, with The Henry Sawyer Inn and Twin Gables Inn, present Murder Mystery Weekends on February 15-16, March 8-9, March 22-23, March 29-30, and April 5-6. Participants can test their crime-solving skills while staying in one of these lovely Bed & Breakfasts. East Lynne Theater Company's Murder Mystery Weekends were cited among one of the top five in the country by "AM NY."  

It's "Apple Season" at NJ Rep
Every family has stories. Some are funny. Some are sweet. Some are sad. And some are never shared. Those are often the most powerful.
Rise of the Goatman
Theater For The New City presents Beltsville/Rockville, Part 1: Rise of the Goatman, an original play by Englewood resident Matt Okin (Artistic Director of Black Box Studios), from December 27 through January 13. In this pseudo-Southern Gothic dark comedy, a vibrant group of teens from two very different suburban neighborhoods clash over class differences, drugs, and sex - and the existence of the legendary ‘Goatman’ in 1986. Cut to 2013, and the adolescent kids of those very same teens are struggling to make sense of their family histories - and the same “mythological” creature - that could be holding them back in life.
PHOTOS from "The Winter's Tale" at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run now through December 30. 
REVIEW: "It's A Wonderful Life" At Mile Square Theatre
Nestled in a corner of Hoboken, on the second floor, lies the studios of radio station WMST.  It’s a wonderful art deco studio, replete with fine wooden walls, embedded with colorful lights an applause sign.  On stage, we’ve got a few chairs, several microphones and a whole corner wedged with all the necessary props – piano, men’s shoes, sheet metal – to create the audio effects for the production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Betsy Aidem Puts A Woman's Touch On George Street Playhouse's "A Doll's House, Part 2"
Betsy Aidem is a veteran actress you might have seen on Broadway. Or maybe on an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” Or maybe on the big screen last year in “The Greatest Showman.” But over the next few weeks in New Brunswick, Aidem is adding a brand-new section to her résumé — by helming a sequel (of sorts) to a classic play that’s more than 100 years old.

Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

View all events


For more on our awards, click here

New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.