Imagine if you got to meet your music idol and in one magical evening, become lifelong friends with them.
That is exactly what happened to Louise Seger, a divorced housewife with two children, when she befriended the legendary Patsy Cline at a concert in Houston in 1961.
"Alwaysâ€¦Patsy Cline," a musical tribute about that friendship, is coming to the Savannah Theatre for several performances Jan. 26 through Feb. 4. The title of the show comes from the way Cline signed the many letters she continued to send Seger until she tragically died in a plane crash at the age of 30.
"I tell this story on stage and, as I tell it, the night they met comes alive," says Misty Rowe, who plays Seger. "It's funny, it's poignant, and it has some of the best singing you've ever heard."
Rowe has been performing in "Alwaysâ€¦Patsy Cline" for about 20 years, but she might be best known for the 19 years she spent on television's "Hee Haw" as a Hee Haw Honey.
Rowe's blonde-bombshell looks, cheerful persona and smart comic timing led to regular roles on many other television shows. She was Wendy the carhop on "Happy Days," including the episode that marked Ron Howard's directorial debut. Rowe also played Maid Marian on "When Things Were Rotten," a Robin Hood spoof where she worked alongside comic greats like Mel Brooks, Sid Caesar and Dudley Moore. She made appearances on "The Love Boat," "Fantasy Island" and "Air Wolf" (her personal favorite TV role).
Rowe even has the distinction of being the first actress to play Marilyn Monroe on film in "Good Bye, Norma Jean." "Not a great film, but I was the first," jokes Rowe.
Rowe was encouraged to audition for "Alwaysâ€¦Patsy Cline" when "Hee Haw" ended - though she was in the middle of a divorce and caring for a toddler. "The licensing agent for the show said, 'You have to go audition, but they won't pay your hotel or airfare,'" explains Rowe. "I said, 'What?'"
She was told, "'Believe me, Misty, if you audition for this show, I know you will get it.'"
Rowe auditioned directly for the show's creator and director, Ted Swindley, who thought she was "a real hoot." After about 100 performances in the role, Rowe was surprised to be asked to direct, as well as star, in another production of "Alwaysâ€¦Patsy Cline."
"Well, you've done the show 100 times. Who knows it better?" Rowe was told. She went back to Swindley to learn the ropes and has been directing theater ever since.
Rowe now lives on Callawassie Island, S.C., and is friends with the folks at Savannah Theatre. Rowe has worked with 11 different Patsys, so when she was asked to put on "Alwaysâ€¦Patsy Cline" at the Savannah Theatre, she had a deep bench to choose from.
"They wanted me to bring my favorite Patsy," says Rowe. "So, I invited Cindy Summers, who I've worked with on 'Alwaysâ€¦Patsy Cline' the most.
"When I first met Cindy, we were dubbed the 'Dynamic Duo,' which I always loved," Rowe continues. "She has such an incredible voice - as all the Patsy singers do - but she has an achiness in her soul that actually comes out in the songs of Patsy Cline."
In a case of "six degrees of separation," Willy Ackerman, who was Rowe's drummer on "Hee Haw," also played drums on the recording of "Crazy" for Patsy Cline. It is one of the many ways Rowe feels deeply connected to "Alwaysâ€¦Patsy Cline."
"I feel so blessed," says Rowe. "I know Charlie Dick, Patsy's husband. I know the real Louise Seger, the woman I played. I was mentored by the creator of the show to direct it, and Willy Ackerman was my drummer! â€¦ This show keeps revolving in my life."
IF YOU GO
What: "Alwaysâ€¦Patsy Cline"
When: 8 p.m. Jan 26-27, Feb. 2-3; 3 p.m. Jan. 28, Feb. 3-4
Where: Savannah Theatre, 222 Bull St.
Cost: $37 or $18 ages 17 and younger