West End star Gus Macgregor leads the new national and international tour of ever-popular bio-musical Buddy, which launched this weekend at the Theatre Royal Plymouth and continues until 14 December 2002 to eight more UK venues, with further dates to be announced. The production takes a break from its UK schedule for a month of European touring from 26 September to 26 October.

On 3 March 2002, Buddy finished its blockbuster run of nearly 13 years in the West End. The musical premiered at the West End's Victoria Palace on 12 October 1989, before transferring to the Strand 6 October 1995. In total, it was seen by more than seven million people in London. Productions have also been mounted in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Hamburg, Holland, Sweden and South Africa, in addition to a Broadway run and US tour.

The show is a high-energy tribute to the late, great rock 'n' roll singer Buddy Holly who died in a plane crash, aged 22. MacGregor, in the title role, was the final West End Buddy, nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical just last year. The touring production also features Jaymz Denning as The Big Bopper and Ricky Rojas as Ritchie Valens.

Buddy is scripted by Alan Janes and directed by Rob Bettinson, whose latest West End collaboration - 125th Street, recreating the bluesy sights and sounds of New York's famous Apollo Theatre in 1969 - opens at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 17 September 2002, following previews from 30 August.

The Buddy Holly musical is designed by Andy Walmsley, with costumes by Bill Butler, lighting by Graham McLusky and sound by Rick Price. Following Plymouth, Buddy will visit Belfast, Wimbledon, Woking, Stoke, Bradford, Southampton, Sunderland and Liverpool, with further dates to be announced.

- by Terri Paddock