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BWW Reviews: North Carolina Theatre's BUDDY - THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY

Set before "the day the music died," Buddy-The Buddy Holly Story tells the true story of rock star Buddy Holly's meteoric rise to fame in the late 1950s-before his life was cut short, along with Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson, in a 1959 plane crash.

The musical which actually hews closer to Holly's life than the 1978 film starring Gary Busey, first debuted in London on October 12th, 1989 as one of the first jukebox musicals. It would go on to earn to 2 Laurence Olivier nominations (including Best New Musical) run for over 12 years. It premiered on Broadway on November 4th, 1990, where it would run for 225 performances, as well as earning a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for Paul Hipp.

This current production playing at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium through July 26th not only offers up a good time at the theatre, but also a very truthful showbiz story executed by playwright Alan Janes. It doesn't glorify how the entertainment industry works, it shows all the long roads of hard work that goes into making it big.

It's thanks to director/choreographer D.J. Salisbury's fluid staging and Craig Stelzenmuller's bright, colorful lighting designs that at times, you really feel like you're at a 50's rock concert with Buddy Holly.

The company is led by James Barry, who doesn't go out and do some impersonation, but rather gives a charismatic portrayal of Buddy Holly. He is joined by a very well casted ensemble including Zach Crossman and Sam Sherwood as fellow Crickets Jerry Allison and Joe B. Maudlin respectively; Brent Bateman as the Big Bopper; Xaiver Cano as Ritchie Valens; Belinda Allyn as Buddy's wife Maria Elena; and Scott Wakefield as record producer Norman Petty. Most of them are even playing their own instruments.

Much like Jersey Boys, whether you grew with all these classic songs or not, you'll surely be dancing in your seats all night long.

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From This Author - Jeffrey Kare