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Spotlight: Patsy’s back

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Submitted Photo Maryl McNally, right, is seen here with Jennifer Wolfe of Roswell's Studio+. Wolfe visited her in New York city before the pandemic hit.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Maryl McNally — a visitor from Broadway

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Friends and fans of Roswell’s theater scene will remember Roswell native Maryl McNally, who in 2018 moved to New York City to further her education on the business and creative side of theaters.

McNally is best known for her performance as legendary Patsy Cline in the show “Always, Patsy Cline.” She originally stepped onto the stage of the Roswell Community Little Theatre in 2014. Because of its success and the demand by the public, the show was picked up by Neverland Theatre Company as well as by the Spencer Theatre in Alto. Fittingly, in 2018, McNally had her farewell performances as Patsy Cline at the Liberty Club.

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Asked about her connection to Roswell, Neverland Theatre and her move to New York City, McNally wrote in an email, “I was born and raised in Roswell and my family has deep roots here. I went to high school and college out of state, but after graduating from UNM (University of New Mexico) law school in 2011, I moved back to Roswell to practice law. My love for theater and the performing arts has always been a constant, so, in 2016, I co-founded Neverland Theatre Company with an eye toward providing more education and performance opportunities to young people in the community. I served as president of the company until 2018 when I moved to New York to get my Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Theatre Management and Producing at Columbia University (New York City).”

McNally said that her experience living in New York City and studying in the MFA program were incredible. “I saw a ton of theater, produced several shows, became a part of a wonderful community of artists and had some once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” she said. “I had the opportunity to put both my legal skills and my love for theater to use by working in legal and business affairs for Disney Theatrical Group, the branch of the Walt Disney Co. responsible for producing shows like ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘The Little Mermaid,’ ‘The Lion King,’ and ‘Aladdin’ on Broadway. It is a surreal experience to go to work via the stage door of ‘Aladdin’ at the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street and Broadway.”

McNally said that she was in the process of wrapping up her coursework and interviewing for jobs, when everything changed.

“On March 12, they made the announcement that an usher at one of the Broadway theaters had come down with COVID-19 and that the theaters would be shutting down for the foreseeable future. We got the directive to shelter in place. All employers put a moratorium on hiring and people started getting furloughed from their jobs. There was talk of the city shutting down completely — no one would be able to come or go from the island. My apartment was very small and I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in there for months, so I made the decision fairly early to rent a car, pack up my two cats, and drive cross-country back to Roswell to wait it out. I had no idea it would be 16 months of waiting it out! But I’m grateful I had Roswell and my family to come back to. So many people did not have a safety net like I did.”

Those who saw McNally in her role as Patsy Cline still consider it one of the best performances in town. They have another chance to see her at the Liberty Club on two nights, July 30 and 31, at 6 p.m.

Asked why she decided to perform at the club, McNally said, “Although many people think I went to New York to perform on stage, I went there to study and work on the business side of theater. So I have not performed since my last one-woman show at the Liberty in July 2018. I knew I wanted to perform again before I moved back to New York, and Josh Ragsdale at the Liberty has always provided a performance home to both Neverland Theatre Company and me personally. A few months ago, I went to him with the idea for this show and he was on board, thankfully. It’s a great venue to perform in, and the Liberty’s audiences are the best out there. For me, this show represents not only the end of a long stint away from performing but also the end of the pandemic. There are so many reasons to celebrate, and I hope people come celebrate with me.

“This upcoming show is a way for me to revisit Patsy’s music in a different way. Instead of doing the scripted theatrical production of ‘Always, Patsy Cline,’ we are doing a concert of Patsy’s music along with other songs from some of country’s great artists like Ray Price, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Brenda Lee. It is going to be a great show,” McNally said.

There is also a new aspect included in McNally’s upcoming show. “I have a phenomenal band playing with me: Bud Hewett on the keyboard, Johnny Mulhair on the guitar and steel guitar, Phil Miles on the bass and Pete Davis on the drums. These guys are pros and are just as much a highlight of the show as I am. Sean Chia, an incredibly talented singer from New York, is going to join us as well. He is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and one of my MFA classmates from Columbia. He will knock people’s socks off. Don’t be surprised if, in addition to all of the country music, we throw a few musical theater numbers in there. Honestly, it wouldn’t be one of my shows without some musical theater,” McNally said.

Asked about her future plans, McNally said, “I am moving back to New York in August, right after the show. In my 16 months here, I’ve finished my MFA as well as a Master’s in Intellectual Property Law at Cardozo Law School. I recently began working remotely for William Morris Endeavor, a large talent agency with offices in New York, doing legal and business affairs for theaters. I am scheduled to be back in the office by the end of August. Theater is starting to re-open and the industry is bustling, so I’m excited to get back and be in the thick of it.”

For more information, visit thelibertyinc.com or its Facebook event page.

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