Buddy Holly Brings the Story and Music of Rock N' Roll to Hackmatack
Everybody's heard of Buddy Holly, but not everyone knows the 1950s rock and roll star was one of the strongest inspirations for rock stars to come. Or that he was a pioneering figure in bridging racial barriers in the music world.
These and many other threads are woven into the musical story of Buddy Holly's life told through a musical that opens Wednesday, July 5 at Hackmatack Playhouse in Berwick.
"It's amazing how much his music has influenced everything, from the Beatles to The Beach Boys, so much of what we think of as rock and roll," said Josh Rubenstein, the 20-year-old actor who will be playing the part of Buddy Holly in Hackmatack's production of "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story."
Born in 1936, Buddy Holly's influence on music and culture far outlived his 22 short years. Killed in a plane crash in 1959, the musician left a legacy that has been captured in what many have called "the most successful rock and roll show of all time."
Like many of the actors in this show, Rubenstein is a musician as well as an actor. A native of North Carolina, he just finished his sophomore year at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., where he is a theater arts and vocal performance major.
Working closely with his band, Rubenstein is in every scene and plays about 20 songs, including "That'll Be the Day", "Peggy Sue", "Johnny B Goode" and "Chantilly Lace." Members of The Crickets, Holly's band that inspired the name and music for the Beatles, will be played by accomplished musicians who are also actors.
Unlike other shows, which feature actors on stage and musicians in the pit, this production puts the pit right on stage as actors, said Billy Butler of Rye, NH, who directs the show and is also as much musician and actor, as director.
"This show is not so much a musical as a concert with a play," noTed Butler, who jumped at the chance to direct a production with so many beloved rock and roll tunes.
When Hackmatack chose this musical, producers knew they were tackling a challenging production.
"We were a bit cautious because it's a giant production, with a lot of elements we don't normally contend with on a standard musical," said Crystal Lisbon of Dover, Hackmatack's artistic director. "That's why it was so important to find a director who really would connect with the piece. Billy popped up immediately as the choice because he is a talented director, actor, musician, and collaborator. We knew he would just "get" it, and be able to connect all the moving parts."
Similarly, she found in Rubenstein the kind of match that is hard to put into words.
"Josh has that 'it' quality that Buddy Holly has to have," Lisbon said. "Buddy is the show, and Josh is a great fit."
Rubenstein and Butler both emphasized Buddy Holly's refusal to recognize the racial divides at the time.
"Culturally and racially he bridged that divide," Rubenstein said. "His music was not specifically designed or performed for one race."
"He broke a lot of barriers and accomplished so much before the age to 22," Butler said. "His music bridged all gaps and that's what music does, bring people together."
"Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" will play Wednesday to Saturday July 5 through 22 with shows 8 pm each night, as well as a matinee 2 pm on Wednesdays. For tickets, please call 207-698-1807 or go to hackmatack.org