Bucks County Playhouse pays true homage to an amazing life with the energetic musical presentation BUDDY: THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY. Buddy Holly (John Dewey) was born in Lubbock, TX. Playing with his life-long friends Tommy Allsup (Zach Cossman) and Joe Mauldin (James David Larson) they became Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Locally considered an up and coming country western act, Holly broke from the mold and his record contract to do things “his way” – creating a whole new sound inspired by country, gospel, and rock and roll. He caught the eye of a popular local DJ Hipockets Duncan (Andrew Frace) who lands them a contract with forward thinking music producer Norman Petty (Kent M. Lewis) and his talented wife Vi (Elizabeth Nestlerode). The partnership led to innumerable hits. Holly’s albeit brief career changed the world of music as we know it.
The real crux of Holly’s life is the music and this show nailed the energy and spirit that is rockabilly. Dewey did an amazing job capturing the essence and originality of Holly, not to mention his own musical and vocal talent. Larson was great; he was amusing to watch with his quirky tricks on the upright bass. Cossman was remarkable on drums. The true talent of the entire cast and crew was amazing. Looking around the theater every head was bobbing, foot tapping, or hands clapping – hiding the real desire to get up out of our seats hearing “That’ll be the Day”, “Peggy Sue”, Why Do Fools Fall in Love”, “La Bamba”, and “Johnny Be Good” among countless others. I forgot at times that I was at a “play” and not at the first white band’s successful show at the Apollo with an eccentric host and singer (Brandi Chavonne Masey) or at the 1959 Winter Dance Party when Holly performed with the Big Bopper (Karack Osborn) and Ritchie Valens (Gilbert D. Sanchez) – that led to the tragedy knowingly referred to as the “day the music died”.
Buddy Holly: the man who changed the face of music and ushered in the new sound of 1950’s rock and roll. A man who traveled with his music, fell in love and proposed after a five hour date, married Maria Elena Santiago (Natalie Haro), and forever changed the mainstream. Only a legend can manage all of this by 22 years old. His amazing career was brief but so inspiring.
[Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope] June 24–June 16, 2016; bcptheater.org.