Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story – review

February 12, 2014 | By | Reply More

✭✭✭✩✩   Happy Holly days

Buddy Holly & Apollo Performers (Glen Joseph, Lydia Frazer, Dion D'Lucia). Photo: KJohnnyW Photography

Buddy Holly & Apollo Performers (Glen Joseph, Lydia Frazer, Dion D’Lucia). Photo: KJohnnyW Photography

Kings Theatre, Edinburgh
Mon 10 – Sat 15 Feb 2014
Review by Paul Johnson

Still pulling in the crowds after 25 years on the road, The Buddy Holly Story continues to be pretty buddy entertaining for 20 big reasons – and a few more besides.

Those big reasons are the 20 Holly hits featured in the show. Songs which, astonishingly, Holly recorded in the 18 months before his tragic death 55 years ago last week, on February 3, 1959. He was just 22.

Another reason for the show’s current success has to be down to Glen Joseph who has played the title role on and off since 2007 – and who also leads tribute act Buddy and the BlackJacks.

When it comes to being Buddy, Joseph is about as good as it gets. Both vocally and visually he is spot-on. Towards the show’s finale, when it has becomes more concert than bio, it’s Joseph’s energy, rock’n’rolling across the stage, that whips up the crowd.

Not that the audience needs any encouragement to sing along to those hit songs, as they do so throughout the show. Many probably turn out each time it tours. It is that sort of show.

But there are still more reasons to come. Lydia Fraser might only be credited in the programme as ‘Apollo performer’, but when it comes to her scene set in the famous Harlem venue, the actress seizes her opportunity.

Everyone is familiar with Lulu’s version of the song Shout, but Fraser gives the Isley Brothers-penned number a soulful twist and effortlessly provides the standout vocal performance of the night.

A delightfully tender performance
Vivienne Smith in Buddy Photo credit: KJohnnyW Photography

Vivienne Smith in Buddy
Photo credit: KJohnnyW Photography

Nice, too, to witness Edinburgh’s Vivienne Smith making her professional acting debut in no less a role than Maria Elena, Holly’s young Puerto Rican wife. It is a delightfully tender performance which gives no hint at any lack of experience.

As with many of this cast, Smith plays more than one part and she also appears as one of a three-girl vocal group and provides violin accompaniment with the band.

Jason Blackwater and Will Pearce clearly have lots of fun as JP Richardson (aka The Big Bopper) and Ritchie Valens, with Pearce receiving the loudest cheers of the evening for his snake-hipped energetic rendition of La Bamba.

It is a solidly good cast throughout, though as now seems to be the way with so many musicals, supporting roles aren’t so much characters as caricatures — played just that little bit over the top.

And at times it feels as if every single bit of schtick or business introduced by the scores of actors and directors over the last 25 years the show has been running, has been kept in.

Which makes for more corn than the Kansas cornfield created by the audience during one overlong interlude, during which they are encouraged to wave yellow advertising flyers handed out for the purpose.

Corny is fair enough, but earlier tours of Buddy had more story and content for the actors to work with. Considering the last half hour is basically a rock ’n’ roll gig, the show aspect only lasts about 90 minutes.

Yet it would be lazy to dismiss this as a glorified tribute concert. You just can’t get away from the fact that, besides all the fun, Buddy is an at times poignant show that delights an audience who will always holler for more.

Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Run ends Saturday 15 February 2014
7.30pm. Matinees Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ
Tickets from www.edtheatres.com/buddy

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story on tour:

10 – 15 February, 2014 Edinburgh
King’s Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
17 – 22 February, 2014 York
Grand Opera House
0844 871 3024 Book online
24 February – 1 March, 2014 Darlington
Civic Theatre
01325 486 555 Book online
3 – 8 March, 2014 Stoke-On-Trent
Regent Theatre
0844 871 7649 Book online
10 – 11 March, 2014 Coventry
Belgrade Theatre
024 7655 3055 Book online
13 – 15 March, 2014 Liverpool
Empire Theatre
0844 871 3017 Book online
20 – 22 March, 2014 Readine
Hexagon
0118 960 6060 Book online
24 – 29 March, 2014 Hull
New Theatre
01482 300 300 Book online
31 March – 5 April, 2014 Southampton
Mayflower
02380 711811 Book online
7 – 12 April, 2014 Derby
Assembly Rooms
01332 255800 Book online
14 – 19 April, 2014 Brighton
Theatre Royal
0844 871 7650 Book online
22 – 26 April, 2014 Hastings
White Rock Theatre
01424 462288 Book online
28 April – 3 May, 2014 Aylesbury
Waterside Theatre
0844 871 7607 Book online
12 – 17 May, 2014 Plymouth
Theatre Royal
01752 267222 Book online
19 – 24 May, 2014 Wolverhampton
Grand Theatre
01902 42 92 12 Book online
27 – 31 May, 2014 Richmond
Richmond Theatre
0844 871 7651 Book online
2 – 7 June, 2014 Bristol
Hippodrome
0844 871 3012 Book online
9 – 14 June, 2014 Sheffield
Lyceum
0114 249 6000 Book online
16 – 21 June, 2014 Glasgow
King’s Theatre
0844 871 7648 Book online
23 – 28 June, 2014 Birmingham
Hippodrome
0844 338 5000 Book online
1 – 5 July, 2014 Cardiff
New Theatre
029 2087 8889 Book online
7 – 12 July, 2014 Bradford
Alhambra Theatre
01274 432000 Book online
14 – 19 July, 2014 Woking
New Victoria Theatre
0844 871 7645 Book online
21 – 26 July, 2014 Dartford
Orchard Theatre
01322 22 0000 Book online
28 July – 2 August, 2014 Oxford
New Theatre
0844 871 3020 Book online
4 – 9 August, 2014 Newcastle
Theatre Royal
08448 11 21 21 Book online

ENDS

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