“Before the Beatles, before the Stones, Rock & Roll was born” is the tag line for Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story which chronicles, well, Buddy Holly as he struggles to make a name for himself playing rock’n’roll in a time where country dominated mainstream airwaves, racial segregation was still common place, and shaking your hips on stage wasn’t just a sin, it was illegal.
The story starts while live on KDAV, a radio station in Buddy’s home down of Lubbock Texas, with Buddy and the Crickets, his backing band, following up the Hayriders performance of “Rose of Texas” with a slower number, “Flower of my Heart”, before getting down to business and playing some rock’n’roll, “Ready Teddy”, and they do so with the biggest smirks on their faces. It is here the audience meets radio personality Hipockets Duncan, played by Luke Wiggins, who brings buddy his first recording contract with Decca records- with the Decca producer being played by none other than local music promoter Jeff Liberty – and is the first voice we hear upon his untimely death.
The first act shows Buddy maturing rapidly. The stunt at KDAV portrays him as a rambunctious teenager, just itching to start trouble, but it really isn’t long before we see the music industry wears him down after he’s been bounced around between contracts and exhausting recording sessions. By the second act, the audience sees Buddy in a much different light.
There were some stellar performances that captured all the touching moments, scenes that were so tense the audience fell silent, but all with plenty of comedy relief (the scene where the drummer for the Crickets tells Shirley, a receptionist at a record company, he wants to marry her and she proceeds to smash his arm with a telephone being a particular gem). The show really comes alive during the performances. which are not your typical perfectly planned out musical numbers. They are loose feeling rock performances, with plenty of improvisation, making for a realistic concert experience. That being said, while overall the music was very much alive and electric, there were a couple of times during these performances where the levels seemed off- with the drums becoming over bearing.
Zach Hachey really brings the Buddy Holly to life as a character. He is full of energy and seems at ease on stage – with 15 shows under his belt this should be no surprise- all while playing his own guitar parts. I managed to catch up with him briefly after the show, in a hectic backstage area, to ask how the show went:
“Tonight was incredible, the crowd was awesome, we got them all fired up for the end (…) it’s cool because you can kind of adlib the concert, you can just play it by ear and you can rock and roll!”
Accompanying Buddy on stage were the Crickets – and his best friends- Joe B. Mauldin (played by Doug Brenton) and Jerry Allison (Played by Rob MacPhee), as well as his wife Maria-Elena (Played by Allison Campbell).
KV Players presentation of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story runs from July 19th to 22nd with shows starting at 8pm. It is the first of their two summer plays, with the second being Sister Act which will run from August 9th to 12th.