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The Buddy Holly Story. Royal & Derngate.

Buddy Holly was a rock and roll star of the 1950’s whose life was tragically cut short in a plane crash during a stormy night in 1959. However, his music lives on and The Buddy Holly Story not only tells the story of Buddy’s rise to fame alongside his band, The Crickets, but gives us a night of fabulous music. We start at the beginning where Buddy Holly and The Crickets were on a country radio show but they couldn’t just play country – oh no – they launched into rock and roll. Their famous interaction with Decca records is also noted. Buddy knew he wanted to play his music his way. He also insisted on wearing his glasses on stage – which became his trademark. The Buddy Holly Story is a wonderful walk down memory lane and this show has the feel-good factor in massive amounts.

All the cast were so exceptional that I would not even want to call them an ensemble. Each person brought their character to life and added value to the show to make it feel special. My personal pet hate with musicals is when there is no orchestra and the cast play on stage. However, with some shows this can work well and with this show its perfect. It wouldn’t make sense to have an orchestra for rock ‘n’ roll. This makes the cast even more exceptional as not only can they sing and act but they play too!

I really enjoyed the end of the first act where we go live to the Apollo Theater, Harlem for the first white act to play there. It was Buddy Holly and The Crickets and it was legendary. The show does this particularly well. I enjoyed performances of Rete Petite by Miguel Angel who had the audience singing along and Shout performed by Cartier Fraser and Sasha Latoya and boy can those ladies sing! This is all before Buddy goes on stage. It felt like you were there. It felt magical. What a phenomenal show.

The show boasts a stunning list of songs including That’ll Be The Day, Rave On, True Love Ways, Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue Got Married, Every Day, Maybe Baby, Raining In My Heart, Brown-Eyed Handsome Man and It’s So Easy. I found myself singing along although I had not listened to any Buddy Holly songs in years. They stay in your psyche. We were also treated to Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace and Ritchie Valens’ La Bamba. The show before that fatal crash was truly fabulous and were all having a great time when suddenly the music fades and it just focuses on Buddy Holly’s guitar. Extremely sad, even all these years later but very tastefully done.

The lead role of Buddy Holly is shared but tonight was played by Christopher Weeks. He gave Buddy a determined but gentle approach and that made Buddy very likeable. You warmed to his character and enjoyed his smile and manner. I loved that even as Christopher was saying goodbye to Northampton’s audience, he gave us the message of driving home safely (cause it’s a blizzard out there) and to eat properly, all done in character. I loved that. It felt so much like something Buddy would do. As I have said the cast were phenomenal, but I do want to give a special mention to Harry Boyd. Harry must win an award for the most characters played on stage and he was also narrating the show for us. What a talent.

Go and see this show – you are guaranteed a rock n roll of a good time!

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