Latest Review – Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story (Palace Theatre, Manchester) (UK Tour)


Palace Theatre, Manchester

Until Saturday 3rd June, 2017

On 3 February, 1959 – a day forever cemented by Don McLean as ‘The Day The Music Died‘ – a fatal plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa tragically took the lives of pilot Roger Peterson and passengers Ritchie Valens (aged 17) , J. P. Richardson (aka The Big Bopper) (aged 28) and Buddy Holly (aged 22).

Though in the 21-months between the release of The Crickets’ debut single That’ll Be the Day in May 1957 and his untimely passing, Holly was responsible for an anthology of timeless music that would immortalise an era with its definitive rock and roll sound, influencing the likes of the The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and countless other acts that followed.

Before Frankie Valli there was Buddy Holly, and before Jersey Boys there was Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story, an exhilarating, yet simply staged look at the life of one of rock and roll’s most celebrated and engaging icons, widely considered to be the first musical to incorporate the now frequently seen ‘jukebox’ format as we know it.

A huge West End and International hit (running for over 14 years and playing a total of 5822 performances across London’s Victoria Palace, Novello and Duchess theatres), Alan Janes’ Buddy depicts the band’s meteoric and often troubled rise to fame from the early days in Lubbock, Texas through to the landmark recording sessions with producer Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico and what was to be Holly’s final performance on the The Winter Dance Party all-star tour at Clear Lake’s Surf Ballroom (alongside Valens and the Big Bopper), as they attempt to break out of the ‘safe’ country and western mould and play the rebellious new rock and roll music they desire to play.

Refreshingly Buddy doesn’t require much in terms of design and effects to tell its tale, instead relying on the talents of a truly superb company of versatile actor-musicians, led by the exceptional Alex Fobbester in the central role.

Fobbester takes artistic license slightly with an exaggerated Southern drawl but nevertheless expertly evokes Holly’s dogged determination and goofy, effortless charm with aplomb, demonstrating enviable guitar work and capturing the distinctive stuttering vocals and hiccups that characterised Holly’s unmistakable vocal sound.

Though only appearing in the latter portion of the show, Thomas Mitchells’ Big Bopper and Jordan Cunnigham’s Richie Valens are unsurprisingly notable standouts in the supporting cast, alongside the likes of Joe Butcher and Josh Haberfield as The Crickets. Miguel Angel, Celia Cruwys Finnigan, Matthew Quinn, Alex Tosh, Tom Sowinski, Kerry Low and Glen Joseph complete a very strong multi-role ensemble.

It may be almost sixty years since Holly’s death, but Buddy serves as a powerful and moving reminder that his talent and endearing spirit will forever live on in the timeless legacy he left behind.

Running Time: 2 hours and 40-minutes (approx.) (including one 20-minute interval)

Final Performance at the Palace Theatre, Manchester: Saturday 3rd June, 2017

For more information, and to book tickets, please Click Here.

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