Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: BUDDY: THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY at Florida Studio Theatre Brings Smiles Start to Finish

The production runs through January 2

Review: BUDDY: THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY at Florida Studio Theatre Brings Smiles Start to Finish

There are shows that make you laugh and others that make you cry. We go to the theatre and are swept away by all kinds of emotions. Some shows make us angry and others inspire hope. Then there are the shows that just make us happy. Above all else, "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" at Florida Studio Theatre is just that show.

For me, I was happy for a different reason. While I am not young, for this show, I was a baby in the audience. I did not grow up on the music and to be honest, probably couldn't have named a Buddy Holly song before seeing the show. What brought me happiness was the reaction of the audience. As I looked around everyone was smiling, everyone was clapping, everyone was singing along and having fun. This show brought pure joy to the audience and it was evident to me the role this music played in the lives of so many. This of course was amplified by an amazing and energetic cast who gave their devoted crowd everything they wanted and so much more.

"Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" follows Buddy Holly on his meteoric rise to stardom. The show explores the path that led Buddy to fame and fortune and the obstacles he faced along the way. The classic songs are imbedded throughout and portrayed in creative ways that often showed the development of his music. From "Everyday" to "La Bama" to "Johnny Be Goode" the audience is engulfed in every moment and timeless song that is delivered with power and passion that has the audience wanting the show to never end.

Michael Perrie Jr. portrays Buddy Holly for the fifth time in his career including two national tours. Perrie is engaging and presents such a realistic portrayal of the famed musician. He truly immersed himself in the character. His baritone voice and punch moves exemplify the musician in so many ways. Perrie goes beyond an impersonation which is so easy to do in this type of musical and truly embodies the role. He is expressive and is equally talented on his instruments which is a hallmark of the legendary performer.

While the script by Alan Janes has some notable holes and often cuts scenes short without allowing for much character development as well as being a bit off on historical accuracy, director Jason Cannon helps minimize the scripts shortcomings and brings maximum levels of engagement and great comedic timing out of his talented cast. The opening scene at the Apollo Theatre brings the house down and this sequence before intermission allows the actors to truly have fun on stage while displaying their immense talent and deep understanding of the roles they portray.

Jannie Jones (Marlena), Ryan Halsaver (Hipockets/Duncan), and Troy Valjean Rucker (Tyrone) all deliver notable performances that allow the musical to go to a deeper level that can be easily overlooked when the focus is just on the timeless music. To that point, Buddy Holly's musical team consisting of Danielle Erin Rhodes, Armando Guiterrez, Seth Eliser and Spiff Wiegand amplify and enhance everything Perrie does on stage. Their work helps Perrie make his character the focal point in a way that would be greatly diminished without their perfect timing and complimentary interactions to every moment they have with Buddy.

There isn't much of a story in terms of depth but certainly enough to convey the message and path of Buddy Holly's journey. But that isn't why anyone is coming to see this show. The cast is first rate and makes an enjoyable evening for even the most novice Buddy Holly fan. Each member of the production bring his life to life and as a result creates a show that from the first moment has the audience truly reminiscing and having the time of their lives and that quite honestly makes the show perfect.

"Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" runs through January 2. Tickets and more information can be found at

Photo Credit: John Jones

From This Author - Jacob Ruscoe

Dr. Jacob Ruscoe has been involved with local theatre in Sarasota for the last several decades. Jacob has spent time serving on the Board of Directors for Virtuoso Inc and Rise Above Performing Art... (read more about this author)

Review: THE BURDENS at Urbanite TheatreReview: THE BURDENS at Urbanite Theatre
November 9, 2022

“The Burdens” should not be missed. If you love to text message, (and who doesn’t) this is the show for you.

Review: LET IT BE at Players Centre For The Performing ArtsReview: LET IT BE at Players Centre For The Performing Arts
August 25, 2022

Let It Be is a great way to experience the classic songs of the Beatles! The Players Centre for the Performing Arts is continuing its 92nd season with the concert revue style musical, 'Let It Be.' Director, Sunny Smith, notes that the musical is 'the journey of Beatles songs through the turmoil of war and loss in the 60's, and the battle of holding on to your family and trying to find yourself.'

BWW Review: A SKEPTIC AND A BRUJA  at Urbanite Theatre a Haunting ExperienceBWW Review: A SKEPTIC AND A BRUJA at Urbanite Theatre a Haunting Experience
April 12, 2022

In a deviation from your typical theatrical experience, may I present you Urbanite Theatre’s World Premiere of “A Skeptic and a Bruja.” Much to its title premise, this new work takes you on a paranormal journey.

BWW Review: THE LAST FIVE YEARS at Venice Theatre Provides Raw EmotionBWW Review: THE LAST FIVE YEARS at Venice Theatre Provides Raw Emotion
March 29, 2022

Some shows get away from all the glitz and glamour and just tell a story. There are times where musical theatre transcends the fancy costume and strobe lights; a place where the big numbers wait for another time. What we are left during those moments is something raw and powerful. What we have is “The Last Five Years.”

BWW Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at Florida Studio Theatre is Comedic PerfectionBWW Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at Florida Studio Theatre is Comedic Perfection
March 6, 2022

By nature, musicals are vastly more popular than plays. They have a natural ability to engage an audience and if there are any lulls in the action, you have a high-flying musical number to bring the show back to life. A play has no safety nets. The actors must be dynamic and make genuine connections in order for thee beauty of a show to be felt.