Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story
The 5th Avenue Theatre
February 13th-March 4th, 2007
Tickets and Information
The ending of Buddy Holly's life, along with that of the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, is tragic and comes rushing back into people's memories whenever the song "American Pie" by Don McLean is played. Yet the music that Holly played, his love of rock and roll...that's the true story of his life. He may not have been able to write any more songs after that day in February of 1959, cutting what could have been a very long and prosperous career down to less that two years, but his music certainly did not die; it lives on in the hearts of people, young and old.
Certainly, this is the theme that is being played on in 5th Avenue Theatre's and director David Bennett's take on Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story, written by Alan James and Rob Bettinson. By not adding any original music, it seems as if Holly has indeed risen from the dead to put on a show for his adoring fans. Even if an audience member hasn't heard of his music, there is no doubt a certain energy that is put behind every single note of rock and roll that is played on stage. All of the actors who play instruments on stage, with a special nod toward Billy Joe Huels (Buddy Holly), Matt Weiner (Joe B. Mauldin, a Cricket) and Mike Daugherty (Jerry Allison, a Cricket), are real musicians and can play very well.
Photo by Chris Bennion
However, with all of these elements, something is indeed lost. Buddy does not feel so much a musical or even a piece of theater as much as a revival concert for the late Buddy. The lighting (Tom Sturge), along with the choreography(Karthryn Van Meter) and the costumes(Taylor Burgess), simply are more in the vein of a live rock and roll show rather than a piece of theater. The set design (James Wolk) is very simple and comes to life, as does the rest of the show, most when song after song are played in succession and the actors on stage are talking to the audience much in the same way a conductor or any other live musician would. The acting was sub-par compared to other high-quality works.
Yet this is still a fun show. By dredging through the tragically unimpressive biographical portions of the show, the audience is treated to thrilling musically numbers that will have them tapping their feet and clapping their hands, and that is truly how Buddy Holly is best remembered.
Review by Jack Jarden