Buddy at The Churchill Theatre
Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story
Buddy is a musical that seems like it is always on tour or playing somewhere but it is also a show that I haven’t seen for many years so I was pleased to revisit it and remind myself just why this show is so popular.
The shows tells of Buddy’s beginning playing country music, to his final concert at Clear Lake. On the way we see him at the Crickets part ways and the meeting of Buddy and his wife, Maria Elena. The show is of course focused on the music rather than the plot and at least half of the second act is the concert at Clear Lake where we are treated to not only Buddy Holly numbers like ‘Maybe Baby’ but also ‘Chantilly Lace’ and ‘La Bamba’ by The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.
The music is all played live by the cast and to a great standard. Josh Haberfield plays Jerry Allison, the drummer of The Crickets and Joe Butcher plays Joe Mauldin and between them they don’t appear to stop playing! The show is jam packed full of Buddy Holly’s hits and even when they are not being performed live they are played over scene changes so the mood never drops.
The star of the show is of course Buddy Holly himself who was played by Glen Joseph at this performance. Glen’s performance was not only very humorous but full of life whilst keeping the authenticity of the music alive. Jordan Cunningham also made a big impression as Ritchie Valens with his hip work being shown off too perfection by the trousers he was wearing and La Bamba was one of the highlights of the show. The women in the show are glossed over more. Kerry Low as Maria Elena Holly becomes a two dimensional character in order to make room for more music. Celia Cruwys-Finnigan takes the role of Vi and her moment to shine comes during ‘Every Day’ while the rest of the time she is reduced to arguing with Maria Elena or serving breakfast and coffee.
There is a poignant end to the show and I found myself willing Buddy throughout the show not to get on the plane. I thought this moment of reflection could have lasted a fraction longer, a few moments more of simple silence to allow the emotion to build before finishing with the rousing bows and encore.
Even if you aren’t a huge fan of Buddy Holly you can’t help but enjoy the show. The music just gets your toes tapping and by the end of the night the audience were on their feet screaming for more. It’s thoroughly enjoyable from the first rock and roll guitar chord you hear, to the final curtain call.