BWW Review: BUDDY: THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY Rocks at Cincinnati Playhouse In The Park
"Oh Boy!" BUDDY: THE Buddy Holly STORY is rockin' and rollin' now through Feb. 16 at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Whether you grew up bopping along to his music or this is your first Buddy experience, there's something to enjoy for everyone.
The jukebox musical tells the story of the rock and roll legend's 18-month meteoric career from getting discovered on a radio station in Texas, performing at the Apollo theater, breaking out on his own, all the way to his premature death at age 22. Buddy Holly dared to be different in every aspect of his life: the music that he created, the path that he took, and most notably, the glasses that he wore. All of these things left a massive impact on the music industry, and will continue to for years to come. Audiences can get a music history lesson while enjoying some of Buddy's greatest hits like, "Peggy Sue," "That'll Be The Day," "It's So Easy" and so many more.
Andy Christopher (Buddy Holly) is a phenomenal talent and Cincinnati is so lucky to have him as the bespectacled icon. This is not his first time with the show, as he recently toured the country, the Muny and more with the musical. This shows onstage as he seems to have the character in his bones. Christopher's voice is like butter yet it has that grit/growl in songs like "It's So Easy" and "Oh, Boy!" which makes it a delight to hear each song be crooned. While Buddy starts slightly nervous about breaking into the business, we see his strength and unwillingness to back down from his desires and hopes from the very first moments onstage, and as he grows into his fame we see his head get inflated and that celebrity charm just oozes from Christopher. However, that charm turns into vulnerability when Buddy meets his love interest, Maria Elena Santiago played by the powerhouse Shayna Nicole Small.
Small arguably stole the show with her genius comedic timing and incredible, soaring voice. When she enters as the Apollo Headliner alongside Byron St. Cyr, she gets all the laughs with her mousey, high-pitched voice. But what comes out of her mouth next, you would never expect. The crowd erupts and bops along as Small brings the house down with the classic, "Shout." The range and power behind her voice is unbeatable.
In addition to these two standouts, it's important to note that every actor that touches an instrument is playing them full out and with the utmost of skill. Joe Cosmo Cogen, Ryan Jagru, and Spiff Wiegand complete Buddy Holly and The Crickets. If you aren't looking over towards stage right (house left) you'll miss Wiegand doing some hysterical yet crazy impressive tricks with his bass, such as playing it lying down, on his feet, etc.