Director: Matt Salisbury
Writer: Alan Janes
Choreographer: Miguel Angel
Reviewer: Fraser MacDonald
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story relives the short but legendary career of Buddy Holly, from his humble beginnings on country radio to his meteoric rise to the top of the charts and his tragic death in 1959.
Buddy is a real test of endurance; Act I runs painfully slowly with very few songs played in full. The ensemble fails to deliver the wordy script, tripping over phrases in accents veering wildly by the second. Varying sound levels only add to the discomfort, with actors either having their first words cut before sound kicks in or their louder lines being boomed to the unsuspecting audience, delivering rather more shock than dramatic effect. Act I is redeemed at the end by the concert-style performance of Holly’s Harlem Apollo gig, with a selection of hits that are well delivered.
Act II, on the other hand, is real treat. An altogether less wordy affair, it’s where the music of Buddy Holly is given centre stage and songs are played in full and with real gusto.
The one consistency throughout the production in Buddy Holly himself, played by Glen Joseph. Having played the part internationally and on the West End stage, Joseph somehow manages to keep the whole show together. In vocal and musical ability on Holly’s famous Stratocaster guitar, Joseph serves as a fitting tribute to the show’s namesake.
With Joseph, the spirit of the show is kept alive; audiences cannot but be amazed at the sheer catalogue of Holly in his short-lived career. His musicality may be legendary, but to see it performed live on stage allows for a true appreciation of the detail of each song, as well as the technical perfectionism of Holly himself during the recording process.
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story is a real mixed bag and very much a show of two halves. With songs like Words of Love, Everyday, Heartbeat, Peggy Sue, Oh Boy! and Think It Over, it would be impossible for Buddy not to go down well with fans.
The show is lucky in that its redeeming features lie in the latter half; when the audience finally get on board, the music is enough to let them forget the questionable accents and thin plot thread of moments gone by. However, it cannot be ignored that, as a piece of theatre, the show leaves much to be desired.
Runs until 8 April 2017 | Image: Contributed