Tag Archives: Rhiannon Hopkins


Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story


Theatre Royal Windsor & UK Tour


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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Return to the Forbidden Planet – 3 Stars


Return to the Forbidden Planet

Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Reviewed – 16th May 2018


“undeniably great fun, supported by consistently strong performances”


The Intergalactic Starship Albatross, with Captain Tempest at its helm, is on a standard interplanetary scientific survey mission, when it is pulled onto a planet not even marked on their cosmic charts. Here they find Doctor Prospero and his daughter Miranda, and discover Prospero’s secret formula for telegenesis, a dangerous invention that aims to be able to create matter from brain power alone. So ensues a cult tale of love, trickery, deception and monsters.

The musical by Bob Carlton, which won the 1990 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, is a well crafted mixture of fifties and sixties pop anthems and Shakespearean text. The musical is loosely based on the 1950s film ‘Forbidden Planet’, which was based on Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ but the piece borrows lines from across Shakespeare’s oeuvre: “Two beeps or not two beeps, that is the question” was a particular favourite with the audience. The word play is intelligent and witty, and we don’t lose a syllable of it thanks to the cast’s clear and lively delivery.

The actor-musician cast is consistently strong all round, deftly switching from vocals to saxophones and trumpets, led by musical director Rhiannon Hopkins. Simon Oskarsson’s fantastic robot on roller skates Ariel, is the standout performance of the production, a detailed and committed characterisation full of energy, playfulness and wit. The evil Gloria played by Ellie Ann Lowe is also particularly strong – slick, fierce and effortless, something which other members of the cast could learn from as there are a few too many moments where it is clear how hard this cast are working. Certainly playing instruments, singing, dancing and acting is no easy feat, but the cast need to make it look easy, something I’m sure they will achieve as they settle into the run. In fact there isn’t a weak link across the cast in terms of talent, though at times certain performances could be a little more streamlined, the brilliant energy levels just a little more focused.

A few things need ironing out – there’s the odd technical issue and clumsy musical moment but the audience is so onside that these moments are utterly forgivable. The production is brimming with wit and silliness, no desire to take itself too seriously, something which is echoed in the design – neon blue space suits and yellow and purple set designed by Amy Yardley.

This production is undeniably great fun, supported by consistently strong performances, and you will be sure to leave with a smile on your face.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Darren Bell


Return to the Forbidden Planet

Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 17th June



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