BWW Review: BUDDY - THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY at the Engeman
Northport's exquisite John W. Engeman Theatre does it again with a boffo incarnation of Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story. Running through March 3rd at the Long Island venue, the musical is strongly directed by Keith Andrews and boasts an absolutely stellar cast many of whom have been in previous productions of this show. While we know Buddy (along with a few of his friends) died young and tragically in a plane crash, Alan Janes has certainly created a joyous celebration of Buddy's life.
The award-winning show has had a very extensive life originating in the West End in 1989 running there until 2008. It was on Broadway from 1990 to 1991 and has toured and been done locally, regionally, and worldwide ever since. In the Engeman's production, Michael Perrie, Jr. excellently stars as the rock and roll pioneer. You will find he is a natural in the role as he belts out some of Buddy's biggest hits including "Peggy Sue", "That'll Be The Day", and "Maybe Baby" among many others.
The show is well thought out having the first act (and a little of the second act) set over several years telling the story about how Buddy started with his band, The Crickets, and the pressures of the music industry as he and the band wanted to move from country to rock-and-roll. It also shows him meeting his wife, Maria Elena portrayed adorably by Lauren Cosio, and the band recording. Then most of the second act shows their final performance at Surf Ballroom in Iowa. It is truly one big party as we also see performances by The Big Bopper, portrayed by the delightfully charismatic Jayson Elliot, and Ritchie Valens, portrayed charmingly by Diego Guevara.
The whole company is truly brilliant as is the clever creative team. Jordan Janota's set is smartly stationary with some rolling pieces that make for flawless scene changes. This is enhanced beautifully by Doug Harry's atmospheric lighting and Dustin Cross' great costume choices as we are in the late 1950s. It is also thrilling to see that the enthusiastic audience was also into the participation aspect.
And so, Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story, is indeed another hit for the Engeman. I am certain that, even if you are not overly familiar with Buddy Holly's music, you will have a wonderful time. And his fans I am sure are elated this production honors him so beautifully. Being an old soul myself, I think it is safe to say you will be happy to have seen this must-see production this season.
Created by Alan Janes, Produced by Richard Dolce, Directed and Choreographed by Keith Andrews (Engeman Theater: The Full Monty; Regional: Flashdance, the Musical (Gateway Playhouse - Regional Premiere), The Rocky Horror Show (Regional Premiere), Rock of Ages (Regional Premiere), Saturday Night Fever, The Addams Family, South Pacific, Spamalot, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (starring Joe Piscopo), Sister Act, Shrek, Young Frankenstein, The Drowsy Chaperone), Music Direction by Angela C. Howell (NYC Theater: Lucky Stiff; West End Theatre: Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Circle in the Square Theatre School; Regional: Buddy - Westchester Broadway Dinner Theatre & North Carolina Theatre, Yale Summer Series), Scenic Design by Jordan Janota, Costume Design by Dustin Cross, Lighting Design by Doug Harry, Sound Design by Don Hanna, Casting by WOJCIK/SEAY Casting, Props Design by Emily Wright, Stage Management by Leila Scandar, Assistant Stage Managers are Kristie Moschetta and Jennifer Walsh
Starring Michael Perrie, Jr. as Buddy Holly (National Tours: Million Dollar Quartet, Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story; Regional: Million Dollar Quartet (Laguna Playhouse, Broadway By The Bay), Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story, The Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, The Producers (Theatre by the Sea), One Man, Two Guvnors (Heritage Theatre)), Sam Sherwood as Joe Maudlin (Off-Broadway: Woody Sez (Irish Rep), Fancy (West Side Theatre); Regional: Once, Stand By Your Man (Ivoryton), Million Dollar Quartet (Geva) ...Forum, Lost Highway, Cotton Patch Gospel, Pump Boys & Dinettes (Flat Rock) The Road: My Life with John Denver (People's Light), Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story (NC Theatre), Armando Gutierrez as Jerry Allison (Off-Broadway: Red Roses, Green Gold (Minetta Lane), Wonderland: Alice's Rock and Roll Adventure (Atlantic Theater Company); Regional: Million Dollar Quartet (Forestburgh Playhouse), world premiere of Mark Hollmann's The Girl, the Grouch and the Goat (Chance Theater)), and Eric Scott Anthony as Norman Petty (Broadway: Ring of Fire; National Tour: Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story, Pump Boys & Dinettes; Regional: Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, Westchester Broadway, Flat Rock Playhouse and Ogunquit Playhouse), Ring of Fire (Flat Rock Playhouse, Merry Go Round Playhouse, and Arrow Rock Lyceum)
With Joel D. Bauman, Lauren Cosio, Nathan Yates Douglass, Jayson Elliott, Joshua Endlich, Diego Guevara, Julia Hoffmann, Kim Onah, Troy Valjean Rucker, Skye Scott, Sarah Statler, Kevin F. Story, Franca Vercelloni, and Rik Walter
Performance Schedule: Thursdays at 8:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm & 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00pm. Some Wednesday and Sunday evenings are available. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com
Photo by Michael DeCristofaro