Chan Harris is best known to audiences of Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick as an actor. He appeared many years ago in “Tommy” and two years ago in “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Harris is back this summer, and this time he’s working as director for the season-opening show “Always Patsy Cline.”

The musical pays tribute to the legendary country singer who died in a plane crash in 1963 at age 30. The show is based on a true story about Cline’s friendship with a fan from Houston, Louise Seger, who befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk in 1961 and continued a correspondence with Cline until her death.

The musical includes many of Cline’s hits, including “Crazy,” “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “Sweet Dreams,” performed with a live band on stage.

Harris directs a cast that includes Maine State veteran Charis Leos as Louise and Maine State newcomer Jenny Lee Stern as Cline. Stern’s credits include the first national tour of the musical “Jersey Boys.”

Although this is Harris’ first turn as director in Brunswick, he’s done a lot of directing in recent years.

“I’m sort of at a weird age where nobody knows what to do with me,” said Harris, 45. “I don’t look like a leading man, and I am also not a young man. So the roles are limited. But I like directing so much. I get to tell the story in the grander sense.”

He’s directed “Always Patsy Cline” several times. Each time, he tries to reimagine the story and give it a different take. The Maine State version will be different still, with many mixed-media experiments.

Cline lived during the golden age of TV and radio, and she received much of her exposure through the advent of the mass media. Harris is going to accent that part of the story by re-creating a TV set on stage. Patsy will be filmed live, and the audience in the theater will see her in color on stage and in black-and-white on the TV screen.

The key, Harris said, is to not allow the technology to get in the way of the story. Ultimately, “Always Patsy Cline” tells the story of an unlikely but heartfelt friendship with a tragic ending.

 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]