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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 www.floridastudiotheatre.org.

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)


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