Co-written by Alan Janes (who also produces) and Rob Bettinson (who also directs), the production is designed by Adrian Rees, with John Banister acting as musical director. The lead role of Buddy is alternated between Dean Elliott and Matthew Wycliffe (who performed at the press performance). The cast also features Greg Last, Nick Sayce, Lee Ormsby, Miguel Angel, Sean Needham and Lucia Rovardi.
Buddy 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. The Duchess is the show’s third West End home.
Critics might not be the biggest Buddy Holly fans in the world - and most felt this show is more suited to those who are – the “big” and “bold performances on offer here, notably that of Matthew Wycliffe as Buddy, succeeded in generating enough energetic goodwill to leave at least a few of them with a “smile” on their faces. Meanwhile, the “sillier bits” of Holly’s final performance, inviting audience participation, caused others to frown. Nevertheless, most recognised that, despite minimal drama, lack of character development and jukebox saturation, the popular and the party atmosphere still has audience appeal.
- by Tom Atkins