“Flipside: The Patti Page Story,” a musical developed and written by University of Central Oklahoma faculty member Greg White, is on its way to an off-Broadway run at New York's 59E59 Theater. The production will be staged Dec. 18-30.
Premiered at UCO in April 2011, “Flipside” follows Page's career from her early days in Claremore through her success as an award-winning singer and television entertainer. After its local premiere, “Flipside” was entered in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival where it won several honors including best musical.
“Very soon after the Kennedy Center competition, I submitted the work to the 59E59 Theater,” said White, director of UCO's musical theater program. He said 59E59's mission “is to support nonprofit organizations that are developing new works. It's extremely competitive to be invited to perform in this space.”
White has budgeted the New York production at $100,000, a conservative figure that includes travel expenses for the cast, musicians and technical staff, housing during the two-week run and per diem for meals and other related expenses. The scenery, lighting, sound and costumes also will need to be sent to New York.
“We've successfully secured $60,000 of that from UCO's College of Fine Arts and Design, and we've had some donors who have stepped forward,” White said. “Our goal is to have all of the money raised before we leave so that we're not dependent on ticket sales.”
‘Destined to be'
A chance meeting with Page's manager Michael Glynn prompted White to explore the possibility of writing a show about Oklahoma's “Singing Rage.” After conducting numerous interviews with Page and her sister Peggy Layton, White explored Page's recordings, memoirs, television appearances and personal life. By the summer of 2010, he had completed a workable draft of “Flipside.”
The title comes from the recording industry's designation of its 45 rpm records. In 1950, Page recorded “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” as the A-side of a disc. While that song has faded into obscurity, the record's flip side — “Tennessee Waltz” — turned out to be Page's biggest hit.
The musical showcases two dozen of Page's hits, from “Doggie in the Window” and “Detour” to “Old Cape Cod” and “Allegheny Moon.” The production features Lindsie VanWinkle as Patti Page and Haley Jane Pierce as Clara Ann Fowler, Page's given name. Additional cast members portray other people who have figured prominently in Page's life.
“The show continues to evolve,” White said, adding that part of the process is observing how audiences react through numerous performances. “I've videotaped it and watched it repeatedly to see if audiences are getting the story and where the laughs happen.
“Then you try to find places that might need to be trimmed or spots where we need to start a song sooner. We went back into rehearsals after the Kennedy Center production, and it was good for the cast to find new ways to keep it fresh. All of the best shows have continued to evolve.”
White's ultimate goal is to see “Flipside” play a long engagement in New York and then release the show for licensing. The 59E59 production will be a vital step in the continued development of and exposure for the musical.
“From the very beginning, this show felt like it was destined to be,” White said. “It hasn't been easy, but there's something about the show that has a resonance with people. I'm proud of it and I'm thrilled with the success it's had thus far.”
How to help
“Flipside: The Patti Page Story” is a collaboration between Front Page Productions and the University of Central Oklahoma. For those who may wish to help fund its December production in New York, checks can be made payable to the UCO Foundation with “Flipside” in the subject line. All contributions are tax deductible.
For more information, call 974-2657.