Vancouver-based impersonator Bonnie Kilroe just returned from a Las Vegas celebrity convention where her act entailed nailing about a dozen divas in four minutes.
“It was crazy, but I pulled it off,” Kilroe says describing some of the celebrities she so expertly tackled, such as Barbra Streisand, Cher, Marilyn Monroe, Dolly Parton, Madonna and Liza Minnelli. “A lot of people think I’m a man in drag ‘cause I’m so tall. A lot of people think I’m a guy wearing a ton of makeup and big wigs,” laughs the impersonator.
But when Kilroe visits St. Albert’s Legion on Friday, March 12, she’ll be leaving most of her voluminous wigs and flashy costumes at home as she focuses solely on An Evening With Patsy Cline.
“She was a down to earth girl who loved to drink with the boys. I like to fully embody Patsy — her music, her mannerisms.”
The “meat and potatoes” of Kilroe’s concert features old favourites such as Crazy, Walkin’ After Midnight and I Fall To Pieces. But she also plans to surprise with a few songs not usually credited to Cline — Bill Bailey, Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray and You Took Him Off My Hands.
Kilroe started innocently impersonating family when she was about six. “The neighbours thought I was funny until I started impersonating them. You just pick the biggest feature and blow it up.”
At Richmond, B.C.’s MacNair High she landed the lead in several high school musicals and did a brief stint at Studio 58. When auditions for a theatre show billed as A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline appeared, Kilroe tried out.
“She was my first singing inspiration. I listened to all her tapes until they wore out. Her pure voice just emoted emotion. Her voice was like syrup — solid and pure.”
Although there were no callbacks, Kilroe shifted her entertaining ambitions to the television and film industry and sang in a touring country band. When a dinner theatre outfit asked her to develop a celebrity act in 2001, Kilroe discovered her true calling. “I was amazed at how people responded.”
Of Cline, Kilroe says, “At times she was very tender, very vulnerable and then she was sassy and spunky. I feel connected to her. I feel that’s me. There’s a side of me that wants to be outrageous and then there’s side that wants to sing a song and make someone cry.”
Like Cline, Kilroe is also a bit of a risk-taker who spent more than three years cruising from the Caribbean to Antarctica with her show. “I just love it when I can bring a smile to people’s faces.”
An Evening with Patsy Cline<br />Bonnie Kilroe<br />Friday, March 12 at 8 p.m.<br />RCL Legion<br />6 Tache St.<br />Tickets: $10. Call 780-458-3330