Naomi MacKay saw Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. It runs until Saturday 13 May.
Buddy is one of the West End’s longest running shows – having played in a number of theatres for a total of 14 years, and first taking to the stage 30 years ago – so does it still appeal to a 21st century audience?
The answer is a resounding yes. The tale of a charming group of young men from Kansas, who make their way into the music business driven by their leader singer/guitarist is a story that never gets old. Buddy and his Crickets quickly endear themselves to the audience, which makes it even more sad when you know what fate has in store for the singer.
The whole cast are multi-talented – playing their own instruments really adds to the authenticity of the whole thing – and it was a treat to get an insight into how those songs we all know so well might have evolved in the studio.
The story moves quite quickly – interspersed with plenty of humour – the boys make history by appearing in front of an entirely black audience at the Harlem Apollo, Buddy meets and marries his wife, and then splits from his band. There’s no explanation about this part of the story and it quickly moves on to his ill-fated tour with 17-year-old Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.
It’s here that the entire cast get to really show off their skills, whether that’s playing sax or piano, dancing or singing.
I don’t think I’m giving too much away by saying that the tale ends when the three tour members die in a plane crash.
However that’s not the end of the show – back they all come, for a chance for the audience to get up and dance to a whole host of favourites, from La Bamba to Johnny B Goode.
Buddy Holly’s musical career spanned seven years, and his huge success only lasted around 18 months, but he recorded prolifically during that time – with three albums released from 1957-59. But his legacy certainly lives on – a number of records were released in the decades after his death – and when he toured the UK there just happened to be two teenagers called John Lennon and Paul McCartney in the audience who cite him as a major influence.
So even if you were born decades after his death, you will know his songs – whether you’ve heard them on TV adverts or shows or as covers. You’re never too young to spend the evening with Buddy!
Buddy runs at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre until Saturday 13 May.
Pictured L-R: AJ Jenks, Joe Butcher, Christopher Weeks, Josh Haberfield. Image credit Hamish Gill f8creates