As I write this revue, I hear “Rave On” playing from the jukebox in the movie “Pleasantville” and am again reminded of the impact that Buddy Holly had on music, culture, and performance. He was a true genius and innovator and deserves a full-blown show in his honor!
Theater of the Stars production of, “Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story” is a must-see performance. The show is very well put together, but you can’t rely on the show itself. You need actors who can sing and play instruments, musicians who can act and sing, and singers who can play, all while they are acting. Not just those qualifications, some of them have to do it, while portraying people who actually existed! And not only that, one of them is Buddy Holly! Bravo!!
Andy Christopher took lead and held the stage for two and a half hours of Rock n’ Roll history and fun. He portrayed Holly down to every hiccup-y note. I have always loved Buddy Holly, so part of me was excited and part of me was concerned to finally see this show. As the curtain rose and I saw the set and the detail of the setting and when Buddy came out and started to play a soft country song and I saw the actor’s byplay and knew that they were going to break into a Rock n’ Roll song, I knew that this was going to be a show to remember…and it is!
From the very beginning Christopher pulled me in and I knew right away that the story to be told was going to actually be based in fact. Every detail of the show was accurate and all of the cast is superb. I especially love (besides Christopher) The Crickets, played by Joe Cosmo Cogen and Sam Weber. The camaraderie between the three is electric and they light up the stage together. Cogen as drummer, Jerry Allison has a flair with the drums and great acting abilities. Weber as bassist, Joe B. Mauldin also has a way with his instrument, as in laying on it while playing and dancing with it like a prom date. He all but takes it out to dinner. Weber has such charisma onstage, whether he is playing a Cricket or back-up singer for the finale. Also of note, is Ryan Jagru as Ritchie Valens. He is right up there with Lou Diamond Phillips as the late, great hip-roller. Ryan G. Dunkin portrays The Big Bopper, but for me, he only matched in stature. He doesn’t really have the voice down pat and he is more disconnected from the group. Everyone in the show connects, but he didn’t mesh, for me. He is a very good singer in his own right, but I don’t feel that he captures The Big Bopper.
Last, but certainly not least, we cannot forget the ladies. Lacretta Nicole as the Apollo performer really has her work cutout for her and she does a brilliant job of directing the audience to be the Apollo audience of 1957. Again, multi-talented, this group of women are enviable in their talents. Carrie A. Johnson and Jennifer Drew, along with Noella Hernandez, spread their talents far and wide. From violin to piano, to singing, all three women lend a hand to this legendary story. I definitely recommend this wonderful show to anyone, young and old, Buddy Holly fan or not. Theater of the Star’s production is certainly the group to see perform it, if you have the chance.
- Andy Christopher: A+, a super talented young man in his own right, but captures Buddy Holly’s essence and true genius. And stays right with it through the whole show.
- Joe Cosmo Cogen: A, a fantastic drummer and actor. I don’t know how he kept those beats on his thighs for “Everyday”?!
- Sam Weber: A+, he really shines onstage and plays that bass like he was made for it. He demonstrates that he is a really team player as a back-up singer in the finale, with his Four Seasons-type precision.
- Ryan Jagru: A+, he embodies Ritchie Valens… enough said!
- Ryan G. Dunkin: C, he became my weakest link. If he was in a different show, as a different character, I would like him just fine.
- Lacretta Nicole: A+, that voice and command of the stage, really sets her apart.
- Carrie A. Johnson: A, she is wonderfully diverse and talented.
- Jennifer Drew: A, she again, has a multitude of talents n display in this show.
- Noellia Hernandez: A, she does a terrific job portraying Holly’s widow and has a lovely singing voice later in the show. I wish that she was given a different hair color (such as blonde) for her role in the finale, but not her fault.