Twenty two years after its West End premiere, Buddy continues to enthrall crowds across the world and it’s easy to see why. An early juke box musical, predating both Mamma Mia! and We Will Rock You - this rocking and rolling show proves itself to be a far superior product as it is a superbly put together theatrical event.
It’s less a musical than a play with songs and herein lies its strength. This contrasts with other jukebox musicals where the songs are tenuously incorporated into a slim narrative. Here the songs are used within the telling of the short career of Buddy Holly in scenes set in the recording studio and through recreations of live performances by Holly and his band, the Crickets.
In a sense the show is almost a tribute gig with a bit of story thrown in. This is particularly true of the second half where the vast majority of time is given over to recreating Holly’s final gig at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, before his untimely death in a plane crash.
The cast of twelve actor/musicians are stunningly talented, none more so than the brilliant Glen Joseph who looks as though he was born to play Buddy Holly. His enthusiastic and exuberant performance never falters for a moment and with so much material to perform it’s no wonder he alternates in the role with Roger Rowley who played supporting character Tommy Allsup on opening night in Manchester.
For a man whose career only lasted eighteen months it’s amazing how his legacy has endured. But hearing it live, the quality of the music speaks for itself and if you’re a Buddy Holly fan then this show is the perfect tribute to a great musician.
However, there is much to enjoy for everyone here; fantastic music played by brilliant musicians with great singing in a production that soars from curtain up to curtain down. It’s a treat and total joy to watch.