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Review: Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story


By: Dulcie Harrison, TRP Reviewer


For over thirty years, this show has been a staple of the international theatre scene, this jukebox musical based on Buddy Holly’s journey into the world of music from when it all began in January 1956 up until February 3rd 1959, ‘The Day the Music Died’ hits the stage at our beloved Theatre Royal Plymouth this week until Saturday 3 June and Oh Boy! Is it an amazing show.

The atmosphere is set from the start, with the show setting the scene with 50s music playing as you find your seat, the stage designed by Adrian Rees is designed in such a way it lends itself beautifully through Buddy’s first encounter with his local radio station to his final concert with The Big Bopper (Christopher Chandler) and Ritchie Valens (Miguel Angel). The costume design conveys the time period of the late 1950s, and the set is well designed to utilise the space onstage- the changes of location are shown through a simple yet impactful movement of props or a change in lighting.

The scene of Buddy’s final concert with The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens deserves its own moment of appreciation. The energy and talent on stage is truly indescribable. Topped with audience interactions and a collection of beloved classic rock and roll tunes, seeing the audience’s response of dancing in their seats, clapping along, singing along, and smiling ear to ear really conveys the uplifting escapism this show provides.

AJ Jenks was superb from the start, he played Buddy so sweetly that you could fall for his boyish charm, effortlessly capturing how he wore his heart on his sleeve, how he wasn’t afraid to be who he wanted to be and his steely determination to not conform to the norm, complete with Jenks’ impeccable vocals. Buddy was steadfast with his vision and how he wanted his songs to be heard. It gave us a real opportunity to see what a talented songwriter and musician he was. The lyrics were exquisitely simple, beautiful melodies that just fill the air of a time when people found their sweethearts at local school dances.

The Crickets, played by Joe Butcher, Josh Haberfield and Christopher Weeks are out of this world, their wit and incredible talent was a real treat to see and it was truly a joy to see these instruments played so perfectly live on stage! The cast all brought an energy to the stage that was second to none, not one bad performance from any of them. The singing and live musical instrument playing was faultless.

It’s not hard to see why Buddy still has legions of fans and this show allows new fans to discover his music and fall in love with this wonderful boy from Texas. The music he gave the world in those short 18 months has lived the testament over the last 70 years and will continue to do so for many years to come. This show is guaranteed to have you laughing, crying, and cheering, and definitely expect to be singing and dancing all the way home!


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