“Flipside: The Patti Page Story” at 59E59 Theaters

December 26, 2012 | Off-Broadway | Tags:
“Flipside” at 59E59 Theaters (Closed December 30, 2012)
Written and Directed by Greg White with Patti Page
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Google ‘flipside’ and cumulate a variety of search results: from the online fantasy manga/comic to the burger and bar restaurant in downtown Fairfield. The term as it refers to the B-side of a vinyl record is rarely used today with the advent of CD’s, the iPod, and other mp3 players.

‘Flipside’ is used to indicate the B-side of a vinyl 45-rpm record and is the perfect extended metaphor for Greg White’s delightful telling of the Patti Page story. Haley Jane Pierce plays Patti Page in the present and Lindsie Vanwinkle plays Patti Page in the past. Ms. Pierce is the Patti Page before she was known by that name and her rueful Clara Ann Fowler projects memories of her career in a series of fantasy flashbacks onto the stage as she “watches” Ms. Vanwinkle rehearse those memories in real time.

Ms. Pierce is effective as the mature Patti Page who wonders what she might have given up in her rise to stardom and which “side” of Patti was the real Patti Page: the vulnerable Clara Ann from Tulsa Oklahoma or the rising star who invented “singing four-part harmony with herself.” And Ms. Vanwinkle’s performance is spot-on as the Patti Page from Tulsa to the Copacabana in New York City singing “Boogie-Woogie Santa Claus.”

“Flipside” features twenty-six Patti Page hits which complement Clara Ann’s recounting of the vicissitudes of the singer’s life and career. Perhaps the tenderest recollection is that of how one of Ms. Page’s most memorable songs “Tennessee Waltz” began as the flipside of what Jack Rael thought would be the hit song: “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus.”

The little girl from Oklahoma becomes the Grammy Award winning superstar who forms her own record label CAF Records. “Flipside” tells this story with grace and dignity and, thanks to the ensemble cast and the band, leaves the audience wanting to hear Ms. Page sing live in the present which she does on a regular basis.