BWW Review: BUDDY- THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY, King's Theatre, Glasgow
Having first graced the stage in 1989, Buddy- The Buddy Holly Story has embarked on an UK tour to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Telling the story of musician Buddy Holly and his rise to fame, Buddy was one of the first productions to take on the format of a jukebox musical.
Starting out in Lubbock, Texas, a young Buddy Holly forms a band with his friends and they become Buddy Holly and The Crickets. The year is 1956 and people in the industry keep telling them that they could be huge in country music if they made their sound a little more conventional. They were told repeatedly that their music sounded a little too 'coloured' and they wouldn't be successful because of it but the band refused to compromise.
The actors play their own instruments and this is a great touch to the show and makes the music feel a lot more authentic. The scenes with the band rehearsing and watching the songs develop are fun to watch as well known lyrics click into place.
As Buddy Holly's life was tragically cut short at 22, there isn't much of a story to tell in Act Two. While the strength of this musical is the live band, the second half feels more like a low-budget tribute concert than a theatre production. As Buddy Holly and The Crickets perform their last show, they rattle through hit after hit with little dialogue in between. The songs are great with the likes of "Rave On", "Real Wild Child" and "Johnny B Goode" featured but the band seem to rush through them a bit too quickly.
Some of the techniques of this show seem to fall slightly flat. There's a compere trying to get the audience ramped up for the live performances and the forced interaction feels a little awkward. The comedic parts of the script are strained and they try to force too much from the 'gag' that a white band have to impress a black audience in Harlem.
Overall, Buddy- The Buddy Holly Story is a pleasant enough way to spend an evening. While the latter part of the show is lacking in substance, it provides a good soundtrack to a decent night out.