REVIEW: Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story @ White Rock Theatre, 3/5/17

The Verse’s Lorenzo Ottone tells us about Buddy, one of the longest-running musicals and a celebration of Buddy Holly’s remarkable career.


Being one who has always been on the mod side of life, I never took Buddy Holly too much in consideration. Then one day I grabbed a copy of a notorious British music magazine for the simple reason Noel Gallagher, one of my heroes of those days – how many things have changed since then – had compiled the free CD.

There, between artists as different as Bonobo and Nina Simone, there was Buddy with Well… All Right. For one who had always imagined Buddy Holly’s music as something still, fitting rock’n’roll standards, that track was a revelation. Well… All Right perfectly flowed into the following track which was by the Big Kids and recorded in 1999.

There I finally realised why Buddy Holly is the hero every musician has always celebrated. Buddy transcends trends and generations as only a few other artists did.

The Texan musician heritage is proved by the tickets’ demand for Buddy- The Buddy Holly Story even after having been on stage since 1989. The musical aims at telling the mesmerising story of the 18 months which changed forever not only rock’n’roll, but the whole music history. An insight into Buddy Holly’s life, from his country roots to the last performance before the tragic death aged 22.

Despite some screenplay superficialities, plaudits go to the insight into the recording sessions with The Crickets at Norman Petty’s New Mexico studio.

The musical structure alternates sketches to songs resulting in a light and enjoyable performance culminating in Buddy Holly’s last gig at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. This is a proper performance with up to 11 actors on stage, showcasing the cast’s exceptional music skills and also featuring Richie Valens and The Big Bopper, as on the 1959 show’s bill.

The light-hearted and comic will of the musical, though, is brought too much to the extreme, resulting in giving a final caricatural picture of Buddy Holly, who appears to be a superficial kid rather than a clever musician.

With more than 20 hits and a brilliant scene, Buddy suits both rock’n’roll fans and those who look for an enthralling musical suiting the whole family.

Buddy- The Buddy Holly Story musical is at Hastings White Rock Theatre, 2nd-6th May.

The Verse Staff

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