BWW Review: BUDDY at the Belmont - THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY
Does everyone love Buddy Holly? The Brits certainly do. Alan Janes' BUDDY: THE Buddy Holly STORY opened on the West End in London in 1989 and ran for eight years the first time, toured the United Kingdom over 25 years, and was revived for a year on the West End in 2007, so there's been massive love for the show there for three decades. It's been here, too, as BUDDY opened on Broadway in 1990 and has kept going around America since then as well.
There's a lot of love for Buddy Holly and a lot of love for BUDDY in York over at the Belmont, where it's been a sellout. DIrector Calvin Weary's brought a lot more to love to this production, too, and kudos to him for casting Buddy Holly and his backup band, The Crickets, drummer Jerry Allison and bassist Joe B. Mauldin, with some triple-threat musicians, singers, and actors who are the same age as Holly and his friends were when they began recording.
Nolen Petrosky is, judging by audience reaction, practically a new incarnation of the man who brought us "Oh Boy," a creditable rock guitarist as well as singer and actor. Phil Cave plays bass player Mauldin with all the enthusiasm you can bring to an instrument the size of your body. Already a multiple-instrument musician, he learned bass just for this show, and he clearly learned it well and quickly. Ethan Goss plays Jerry Allison's drums with obvious and infectious delight.
There are of course other parts, notably Michael Posner as Norman Petty, the legendary record producer of NorVaJak Studios of Clovis, New Mexico. Petty is a vital but not oft-recalled part of not only Holly's but Roy Orbison's and Waylon Jennings' careers, among others. Posner's Petty is part genius, part surrogate father, and part unamused manager, a man you can admire while still wondering if he's making off with the cash box.
Joel Persing's bi-level set made excellent use of the Studio Theater's black box space as the area transformed from radio DJ studios to recording studios to the Surf Ballroom.
Following this sold-out production, the mainstage will be open for a blast of cooler weather with a production of Disney's FROZEN Jr.