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Remembering Patsy

Even after 10 years, local Patsy Cline tribute keeps it fun

From the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, published: 03/15/07

When they started performing "Always ... Patsy Cline" nearly 10 years ago, the Comfort Theatre members said they would keep doing it until it wasn't fun anymore.

But that never happened.

Even at its peak of two shows a month, touring South Dakota and surrounding states, the Sioux Falls-based troupe - founded by Kaija and Brian Bonde - says performing "Always" still is fun.

They had cut back in recent years, but still feature Kaija Bonde as Patsy, singing "Crazy," "Sweet Dreams," "Walkin' After Midnight" and other hits by the legendary country singer who died at age 30 in a 1963 plane crash.

Jill Johnson plays Louise Seger, the real-life fan who befriended Cline in l961 and kept in touch until her death.

"Kaija and I always clicked," Johnson says. "It wasn't even so much about the show, we just liked to get together. We still enjoy laughing and joking during 'girl time' before and after the shows."

Soon, that "girl time" preceding shows will end. The Comfort Theatre will stage its final "Always" performances March 23-24 at the Orpheum Theater, and April 28 in Deadwood.

The company members need more time for family, and have a couple of other shows they perform in the region, says Brian Bonde, director and producer.

This past Monday Johnson and the Bondes were digging through old playbills, photographs and gifts from fans, laughing about small sets, schools and even cafes where they have performed.

The decade-long run started when they saw a performance of the show, written by Ted Swindley, in Chicago.

"So then we contacted the author and promoter in 1997 and became one of the first small theaters to do it," Brian Bonde says.

"We were looking for something, always talked about doing a Patsy Cline show because Kaija's voice was so right for it."

In their first year, a tornado damaged the barn they were to perform in. They did the show anyway, with rain leaking onto their set. Dozens of more shows followed as word of mouth made the show a hot ticket.

"We always planned to tour it, but we thought we would tour for a year or two," Kaija Bonde says. The show gained momentum, with e-mail, fax, phone and written requests pouring in. They had to begin turning down requests to perform.

"It's fabulous, and I think its been a treasure for Kaija, a perfect fit for her artistic abilities and a perfect fit for this region," says Janet Brown, a fan and chairwoman of the Augustana College Performing and Visual Arts Department.

"Yes, I am sad they're stopping the run, but I understand that artists need to move on."

Boyd Bristow, the show's music director, says he feels

nostalgic as the troupe wraps up.

"I saw the main show in Nashville once, with a different take," Bristow says. "The 'Louise' character was played almost scary, and 'Patsy' would freeze like a statue, like a ghost in parts. I like our show better."

Reach reporter Jay Kirschenmann at 331-2312,or e-mail

Kaija Bonde (left) and Jill Johnson will perform "Always Patsy Cline" at the Orpheum Theatre on March 23 and 24. They have been doing tribute to the country singer for nearly 10 years and have amassed lots of memorabilia.


What: The final local performances by The Comfort Theatre Company's "Always ... Patsy Cline."

When: 8 p.m. March 23, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. March 24

Where: Orpheum Theater, 315 N. Phillips Ave.

Tickets: $18 and $20 at Sioux Falls Arena box office with no service charges, or with service charges at 334-8181, Lewis Drug and



Be sure and check out Always... Patsy Cline on Facebook




There is a lot to read here!  Click on a button above or a clipping below a  for a full view!  They all go to different stories, so explore them all!

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The South Dakota Arts Council
Support is provided with funds from
the State of South Dakota through the Department of
Tourism and from the National Endowment for the Arts

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by The Comfort Theatre Company
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