They’ve been promising it for years and now the “long overdue” return of Buddy is confirmed (See The Goss, 16 Mar 2007). Five years after it finished its first 12-year West End run (See News, 1 Mar 2002), the Buddy Holly bio-musical will reopen on 7 August 2007 (previews from 3 August) at the Duchess Theatre, its third West End home, where it’s initially booking until 5 January 2008.

The show - a tribute to the late, great rock 'n' roll singer Buddy Holly who died in a plane crash on 3 February 1959, aged 22 - premiered at the West End's Victoria Palace on 12 October 12 1989, before transferring on 6 October 1995 to the Strand Theatre (now the Novello), round the corner from the Duchess on the Aldwych. It finished there on 3 March 2002 and has since continued to tour nationally and internationally.

In the current UK touring production, which will transfer directly into the West End, the title role is shared by Dean Elliott and Matthew Wycliffe (London casting is still tbc). The musical is co-written by Alan Janes (who also produces) and Rob Bettinson (who also directs). The pair subsequently collaborated on West End musicals Jailhouse Rock and 125th Street. Buddy is designed by Adrian Rees, with lighting and projections by Joe Atkins and sound Peter Cox for Thames Audio.

Buddy tells the story of the three years in the late 1950s during which the Texas-born Buddy Holly became the world’s top recording artist and features over 20 of Holly hits including “Peggy Sue”, “That’ll Be the Day”, “Oh Boy”, “Rave On”, “Heartbeat” and “Raining in My Heart”. The show follows Holly’s meteoric rise from his first recording contract through his move to New York and his fatal tour of Midwest America with Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, culminating in a live rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza at the Winter Dance Party finale.

Since its UK premiere, Buddy has been seen by more than 20 million people in over 16,000 performances worldwide, having played in countries including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Germany, Holland, Sweden and South Africa, in addition to a Broadway run and US tour. In its previous London run alone, it’s estimated to have been seen by more than seven million people.

Currently at the Duchess, Peepolykus’ comic version of Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles is booking until 21 July 2007, having opened on 17 April (preview 16 April).

- by Terri Paddock