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BWW Reviews: Candlelight Pavilion's BUDDY HOLLY STORY Rocks

BWW Reviews: Candlelight Pavilion's BUDDY HOLLY STORY Rocks

The Buddy Holly Story/by Alan Janes and Rob Bettinson/directed by John LaLonde/Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre/through February 22

One of the first - if not the first jukebox musicals, The Buddy Holly Story is short on plot and high on the unique rock and roll music of Buddy Holly. This is my second time seeing the show - I first saw it on its American tour in 1999. The music I grew up with in the 50s is so appealing, that I sing along to every tune and move and groove in my seat from start to finish. If you are of that nature - and it seemed that many in the audience on opening weekend fit the bill - then you will have a really good time at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre through February 22. Remember, it's enjoyable fare with no need to think, just set your mind to the relax mode!

Under John LaLonde's excellent staging, talented Jared Mancuso plays Buddy Holly, the lean, untypically attractive singer/songwriter, who hailed from Lubbock, Texas and who, sadly, after a mere year and a half in the spotlight, died in a plane crash in Iowa in 1959, at the tender age of 22. Holly had an uncanny ability to not only sing but to play several instruments, including piano, guitar, banjo and violin. His music covered not only rock but also 'rockabilly', country and pop. Despite his short career, he is known for leaving a legacy that influenced the songwriting of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and individual artists like Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello. His versatility is clearly seen when you compare his early songs such as "That'll Be the Day" and "Peggy Sue" - which started out as "Cindy Lou" - to the later, slower, beautiful ballads "True Love Ways" and "Raining In My Heart". On a humorous note, Holly changed the title of his tune "Cindy Lou" to help his drummer get laid, winning over his gal "Peggy Sue". A good ole' boy who openly shared his down.home sense of humor! Also seen in the show is his stubbornness to play the kind of music he felt teens wanted to hear. Hired to play 'country' for a small radio station in Lubbock by traditional DJ Hi-Pockets (John Nisbet), Holly switched to rock and roll on the air without permission, but still ended up landing a contract with Decca Records, proving that guts and persistence in expressing one's instinctual musical tastes do pay off. Also of interest is that he refused to go solo, insisting on moving forward with his group the Crickets.

Mancuso and the Crickets Julian Johnson as Joe B. Mauldin, Lonn Hayes as Jerry Allison and Cullen Law as Tommy make some pretty fine musical moves with other hits such as "Everyday", "Words of Love", "Oh Boy", "Maybe Baby", "Peggy Sue Got Married" and "Johnny B. Goode", among many others. Orlando Montes does well with Richie Valens "La Bamba" as does Robert Hoyt as J.P. Richardson known as the Big Bopper... Hello Baaaa by and "Chantilly Lace". Both singer/songwriters died tragically along with Holly in that 1959 air crash. Jade Rosenberg does well with the small part of Maria Elena, a fan of Holly's who ended up marrying him after a whirlwind courtship of a few hours. She was carrying his child at the time of his death.

Most of the second act of this piece revolves around the musicians' last concert at Clear Lake, Iowa on the night of the fateful crash. It has a nice variety of rousing musical numbers from all the artists including a very funny performance from amateur Mary Lou Sokolof (Kim Dalton) as she sings the "Star Spangled Banner" totally off-key. All of this sing.a.long party leads to a sudden freeze frame of the action onstage during which a solemn announcement is made of the deaths of Holly, Richardson and Valens. For those of us that remember, the sad news is anticipated throughout, so thankfully the piece concludes on a high note with more rip.roaring music, as tribute is paid to the music of these greats, which became a vital force of rock and roll.

Food and service from the entire staff are as always top-notch at Candlelight, now celebrating its thirtieth year as the Southland's premiere dinner theatre. For The Buddy Holly Story there are delicious cocktails Chantilly Lace and The Peggy Sue offered for only $6.

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From This Author Don Grigware