Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Buddy Holly Story"

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entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"The Buddy Holly Story"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Turtle Lane's first show of the fall season is "Buddy:The Buddy Holly Story". The show follows the life of the Texan guitarist from his beginnings with Buddy Holly & the Crickets in Lubbock to the launching of his solo career. It is told in two acts with a series of vignettes as well as concert style rendition of his songs, featuring over twenty of them. The show concludes with the final Winter Dance Party Tour on February 2, 1959 at the Surf Ballroom in Clearlake, Iowa. After midnight Buddy breaks his promise to his pregnant wife not to fly as he and two head-liners board a small plane and fly off into a blizzard only to crash an hour later into a ploughed field. The accident killed Buddy, the Big Bopper and 17 year old Ritchie Valens in a tragedy that snatched away three of the most dynamic talents the world had known in what is called, ''the day the music died." Some of Buddy Holly's greatest hits in this show include, "Peggy Sue", "That'll Be The Day", "Oh, Boy", "Heartbeat" and "Raining in My Heart''. Directed by James Tallach and musically directed by Sara Hirsch and Kaley Sullivan, they infuse their 12 cast members with high energy to create this dynamic show.

The first act depicts Buddy's rebellious nature until he figures out what he wants to do with his singing.The second half of the first act comes alive powerfully during the Apollo scene. The fantastic leading man playing Buddy Holly, is Patrick Maloney. He just turned 16 years old. Patrick captures the essence and vocals of Buddy perfectly as well as his dance moves especially sliding on his knees in the final scene and with his guitar playing. Buddy started out as a country singer and later rock & roll enticed him. Patrick starts out as the green youngster who yearns to be a rock & roll star and definitely becomes one by the close of the show. Although Patrick has to portray Buddy's vocal style, his excellent tenor voice shines through in various numbers "Words of Love", "Oh Boy" and especially in the tender ballad "True Love Ways". Patrick plays his acoustic guitar while he sings this song to Buddy's wife, Maria Elena. The final concert sequence stops the show with its powerful rendition. (Each of the musicians get their moment to shine in the Clearlake scene and the backup singers in the final concert are splendid, too.) The most poignant moment comes when they freeze onstage at the concert scene and it ends with a spot on Buddy's guitar when you hear the voiceover announcing the plane crash.

John Pease appears in this show as the local DJ, Hipockets Duncan in Lubbock who gets Buddy his first contract in Nashville with Decca records. He does a nice job as the blustery but kindly older man who gives Buddy a push in the right direction and he also plays the MC at Clearlake is a hoot in this role as he cajoles the audience members. Ross E. Brown is Jerry Allison and Jordan Greeley is Joe B. Mauldin and they play Buddy's best friends and fellow Crickets.Ross plays the drums with Jordan on string bass. They not only play their instruments, sing and dance beautifully but give wonderful comic and dramatic performances, too. Ross does a dynamite job as Ritchie Valens singing "La Bamba" swiveling his hips. I reviewed Jordan as Lewis in "Pippin" and in "Big River" at Turtle Lane. Stephen Mann plays Tommy, the fourth Cricket. He plays guitar and drums with a splendid drum solo in the final segment of the show..

Thomas Koen plays the hard ass Decca Producer and Deutch, the kindly New York producer who convinces Mary Elena to date Buddy as well as a timid interviewer who is intimidated by the Apollo singers. He does a great job in these comic roles, having last reviewed him in "The Producers". Brittany Rolfs is a spitfire as Mary Elena, Buddy's wife who he marries after knowing her for only five hours, has an excellent Spanish accent and does a comedy routine as Mary Lou Sokolof. She garners many laughs with her rendition of The Star Spangled Banner in a Southern accent while wearing a gorgeous blue gown. Craig McKerley who has a phenomenal tenor voice, uses it to sing Chantily Lace as the Big Bopper. Ryan DuBray plays Norman Petty. He does a wonderful job as the innovative producer who gives Buddy and the Crickets their break by recording their songs. His wife, Vi is well played by Emma Goodman who gets to show off her comic acting as the long suffering wife and she also shows it off as Shirley, the Brooklyn accented secretary who puts Jerry in his place when he says he wants to marry her by slamming the phone on his hand. She is a hoot as Shirley The Apollo singers, Nella Mupier and Chauncey Moore stop the show with their gospel number, "Party". She played Joanne in "Rent" here and he played Benjamin Coffin in "Rent" at Bay Colony. They are hilarious as they make fun of Buddy and the Crickets for being white boys. The 1950's costumes are by Richard Itchzak and the set by Richard Danehy and Paul Perry. The splendid concert lighting is by Michael Clark Wonson. So for an exuberant show be sure to catch "Buddy:The Buddy Holly Story".

"The Buddy Holly Story" (3 - 19 September)
@ 283 Melrose Street, NEWTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide