Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story
Theatre Royal Windsor
Reviewed – 24th February 2020
“Memorable tunes and a happy vibe make this a highly recommended show”
There’s a place forever in the rock and roll hall of fame for Buddy Holly, the legend that sprang from Lubbock, Texas and bloomed all too briefly before his tragic death in an aeroplane crash at the age of 22.
After just two years of huge success, Holly got fed up of freezing tour buses that were always breaking down and chose to take a four-seater plane from Clear Lake, Iowa to his next big tour date. He perished in a frozen corn field with fellow singers Ricky Valens and J. P. Richardson (‘the Big Bopper’) after an inexperienced and unqualified pilot turned their plane into the ground.
But misery is the last thing you’ll feel at the Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. This is a toe-tapping, gloriously catchy and splendidly feel-good show that tells the story of how the 20-year old Holly broke out of country and western music to become a chart-topping sensation. It has been rocking audiences worldwide for over 30 years, and now has a five-day residency at the Theatre Royal Windsor. This chilly Monday night, I can report that many in Windsor’s normally somewhat reserved audience were on their feet in delight by the end of this sparkling show.
This justifiably popular ‘juke box’ musical features influential Holly hits like ‘That’ll Be The Day’, ‘Not Fade Away’ and ‘Peggy Sue’ together with unforgettable tunes like ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love’, ‘La Bamba’ and ‘Raining In My Heart’. A dedicated and mainly British cast led by A J Jenks (or Christopher Weeks) give energetic and committed performances. Choreographer Miguel Angel appears as Tyrone Jones and has a glorious voice that deserves a special mention after over 1,500 performances in the show. Fifties sound design (Pete Cox), a memorable set and lighting (Adrian Rees and Darren Coopland) all create an authentic period feel.
The first half tells the story of Holly and his band the Crickets’ big break, thanks to innovative producer Norman Petty, and leads on to their being the first ever white performers to appear at the famously hard to please Harlem Apollo. The second half is dominated by a 20-minute sequence of massive rock and roll hits that re-create the excitement of a big tour in the winter of 1959.
The 22 million people worldwide who have seen Buddy can’t be wrong. Memorable tunes and a happy vibe make this a highly recommended show.
Reviewed by David Woodward
Photography by Rebecca Need-Menear
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story
Theatre Royal Windsor until 29th February then UK tour continues
Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Trials Of Oscar Wilde | ★★★★ | March 2019
Octopus Soup! | ★★½ | April 2019
The Mousetrap | ★★★★ | October 2019
The Nutcracker | ★★★★ | November 2019
What’s In A Name? | ★★★★ | November 2019
Ten Times Table | ★★★★ | January 2020
The Last Temptation Of Boris Johnson | ★★★½ | February 2020
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