Many hope to leave a legacy behind during their lifetime – and in just 22 years the legend Buddy Holly accomplished just that.
The Buddy Holly Story, performing at Grand Opera House York this week, recounts the story of the titular musician and his whirlwind rise to fame during the 1950s.
Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story is at the Grand Opera House from Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 March.
Holly along with his band The Crickets, and later as a solo artist, was a pioneer of rock and roll – and inspired the work of many popular music artists such as Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and even The Beatles.
His life may have been short but his influence is timeless. The smash-hit musical depicts his success with a fast paced first act, and a more slower act two which begins to draw more focus to his personal relationships and the tragic end to his life.
The first rule of a jukebox musical is to provide the classic songs that fans would expect to hear and The Buddy Holly Story delivered.
‘That’ll Be The Day’ is one of the first numbers to be performed much to the audience’s delight and the hits continue from there; ‘Everyday’, and of course the toe-tapping ‘Peggy Sue’ are also highlights.
The music comes to a climax in their final performance at Clear Lake including the fantastic finale number ‘Johnny B Goode’. The Big Bopper (Christopher Chandler), may have had the crowd begging for more during his rendition of ‘Chantilly Lace’ however it was Miguel Angel’s Ritchie Valens that received the most engagement as he hip thrusted his way into the spotlight during his rendition of ‘La Bamba’.
We were fortunate to see Christopher Weeks as the title role of Buddy Holly, bringing youthful enthusiasm to the role as he leapt around on stage surrounded by his fellow talented musicians.
I don’t believe I ever saw him stand still until his beautiful rendition of ‘True Love Ways’. I admired Weeks’ ability to go from these large uptempo numbers to a stripped back song about love and life, as he sang to his doting wife. Daniella Agredo Piper portrayed his beloved Maria Elena and whilst this relationship was not explored to great depths in this musical, in the short time she was featured, she interpreted the character well.
The supporting cast were all extremely talented musicians as well as actors and their unwavering energy carried throughout the show. Joe Butcher’s Joe B Mauldin was a particular favourite as he travelled around the stage, double bass in hand, with perfectly choreographed movements and even showing off a few impressive stunts (you don’t want to miss them!).
The set was simple; taking us from the Texas radio station to the Nashville recording studio, Buddy’s home to the Apollo Theatre, New York, and often relied on projections to set the scene. Whilst it may not have had great detail, it did leave the focus on the performers themselves which had a positive impact overall.
The show truly felt like a celebration, therefore when the forthcoming tragedy was portrayed, it left a shocking silence amongst the audience and created a moment of reflection in the theatre.
Hearing the ages and fates of those who lost their lives in the 1959 plane crash is a harrowing moment, however it is also fundamental to the story and Holly’s remembrance. An irreplaceable musician and man who was lost far too soon.
Buddy Holly’s life may have been cut short but his legacy remains – head to Grand Opera House York this week for a rock and roll education that will have you dancing your way home.
Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story is at the Grand Opera House until Saturday 25 March. Tickets start from £13 and are available here.