Growing up all over the Lower Mainland, from Richmond and Delta, to Surrey and Cloverdale, I first remember clamouring for the limelight as a pre-teen.
My cousin Danny and I wore out multiple Patsy Cline cassette tapes during our frequent singalongs.
Then one day, there was a contest for someone to play the lead in the Arts Club’s production of A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline. I was so excited, I went out and rented a wig, and did a song that I was sure no one knew, but at that time, I was not yet a very seasoned singer and … did not get the role.
Despite the rejection, that audition turned out to be a pivotal moment, it turned the aspiring performer in me down the path of my current profession as a celebrity impersonator and my show grew out of that taking me all over the world. Most recently, I did a private show on a yacht in Monaco Monte Carlo, where I took full advantage of the location and travelled to France and Italy just minutes away on either side!
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.
The next turning point was when I was in musical dinner theatre and was asked to pick a celebrity that I could look and sing like. Patsy was the first one … but most people didn’t even know what she looked like, and since I didn’t have a costume, I just wore a short black wig and ’50s-style dress. It was the music that sold the audience.
Since then, I have added many other characters to my repertoire, including Liza, Bette, Marilyn, Tina, Cher, and Dolly, which has earned me invitations to cabarets, casinos and cruise ships around the globe. But Patsy is still my favourite — she’s the only character I do a full show of.
Admittedly, the stable of impersonations in my one-woman show has grown over the past 14 years, meaning I haven’t done as many Patsy tributes as she I would like.
I miss her, and am so happy to be back bringing her music to familiar and new ears. I will be presenting my playful, engaging, and high-energy show to the Bridge Lounge on Oct. 12 in Courtenay. I promise it won’t be a slow evening of just ballads!
They may hear songs that Patsy did that they never heard before.
I love interaction with the audience and the more connection, the better. When I do my big 14-character Vegas Meets Vaudeville Show it is mandatory and I bring people up to help me out as Dolly Parton, Marilyn Monroe and Cher.
I play Patsy as one of the only serious characters in that show, but when I do the full Patsy tribute, 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.
I perform my Patsy show as if it’s a very small town, and we all know each other, I start the show off with a song called, Come on In — and sit right down and make yourself at home.
There will also be a surprise guest in between my two sets (or at the end) to give the audience a taste of what I will be bringing next time. I may do Dolly Parton or Cher.
I just came back from the Sunburst celebrity impersonators convention in Florida a couple of weeks ago. It was tons of fun! I was nominated for five awards and won two (Best Costume and Most Unique Act).
Out of the six characters in the showcase, Patsy drew the most comments.
I’ve been called part vaudevillian comic, torch singer, and sexy siren, all packed into a parade of parody. That’s why I am often dubbed as a “farce to be reckoned with.”
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Bonnie Kilroe will perform her Patsy Cline show Oct. 14 at the Bridge Lounge in Courtenay.