Buddy (Tour – Mayflower, Southampton)

”Buddy”, now touring to the Mayflower, Southampton, is one jukebox musical worth seeing

Buddy the Musical Production shots 2011
Buddy the Musical Production shots 2011
© Alison Whitlock

In 1958, the Mayflower was visited by the legendary rock and roll musician, Buddy Holly. In recent times the musical, Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story has graced the stage on a number of occasions, and now it is back once more.

One of the first in the genre, Buddy is one of the better jukebox musicals. It’s not trying to tell some flimsy story around the music. It’s a bio-musical about Buddy Holly’s 18 month rise to fame before his tragic death.

Starring as the legend is Glen Joseph. He portrays the cheeky, devil-may-care personality of the young Buddy wonderfully. The musical starts during his struggles to perform the music he wants to play when working for country music producers.

It then follows him as he goes from strength to strength. From his performance at the Apollo Theatre, New York, to his final appearance in the Winter Dance Party with Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.

This is a fantastic tribute to Buddy Holly. Most of his songs are included in this musical and the cast deliver them with adoration and passion.

As an overview of Buddy Holly’s life, the musical moves at a quick pace. It only dips during the Winter Dance Party, which includes some unnecessary padding while we’re waiting for the highlight of the show.

But once it gets going the cast put their all into the concluding act. With great performances from Jason Blackwater as the Big Bopper and Will Pearce as Ritchie Valens, who has all the moves to excite the females. By the end the audience are up on their feet, clapping, tapping and singing along to the music.

Other fantastic performances include Shaun Hennessy as radio show-host Hipockets Duncan, who occasionally narrates the events. Vivienne Smith is delightful as Buddy Holly’s wife, Maria Elena. The sets are a bit uninspired, consisting of brick walls for most of the show. Altogether, though, this is one jukebox musical worth seeing.

– David Jobson