Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story Review


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[The Student Newspaper]

4 Stars

Oh Boy! Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story is an experience. Half musical theatre and half concert, the cast churn out crowd-pleaser after crowd-pleaser, whilst simultaneously telling the story of Buddy Holly’s (Roger Rowley) rise to fame. Each scene details an important event in Buddy’s musical career, starting with The Grand Bowl in Lubbock, Texas, and finishing with his last concert in Clear Lake, Iowa.

The entire play centres of the character of Buddy, who is quickly established as a driven and proficient musician confident in his own abilities. Although this is expected, it comes at the expense of the other characters in the play, making them seem a little one-dimensional. That said, the cast wonderfully interacts and engages with its spectators, making you feel like you are an audience member in 1950s America. This works better at some points than others: you are actively encouraged to cheer and sing along, but pausing the play to hand out some retro flyers is slightly awkward. However, they make it work. The dialogue is playful, often flirtatiously alluding to historical events yet to take place. Thanks to the gift of hindsight, this gives the audience a chance to chuckle at the character’s expense. Some fun trivia is included, such as the fact that the song ‘Peggy Sue’ was originally named ‘Cindy Lou’ (after Holly’s niece), but was changed because the drummer in The Crickets (Jerry Allison, played by Adam Flynn) fancied a girl with that name.

It is in the second act that the musical comes into its own, leading up to the fatal plane crash on February 3rd, 1959. The highlight of the show is the final act, where Ritchie Valens (Will Pearce) and The Big Bopper (Jason Blackwater) join Buddy on stage for a musical fest of 50s hits. Here, the sage is lit up in a spectre of colours, and the cast demonstrate a level of showmanship not paralleled on the musical stage today. Buddy is a true joy to watch, and one any fan of Rock and Roll should see. Rave on Buddy, Rave on.

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