Buddy is a beautifully poignant musical, not only is it filled with timeless songs, it tells the story of the tragically short life of Buddy Holly. Having seen this show professionally a number of times, it was a delight to see it brought to the stage by Midlands amateur theatre group, Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company.
The cast oozed enthusiasm and energy from start to finish, with a slick production that showcased an array of talents.
Leading the way was Dan Anketell, who, for those few short hours, really did become Buddy Holly. He delivered a truly sensational performance as the young, headstrong Buddy. Supported expertly by the Crickets, Joe B. Mauldlin (played Ed Hill), Jerry Allison (played by Mike Holt) and Tommy (played by Pat Jervis), it was a joy to see Anketell, Hill and Holt play their instruments live.
Buddy Holly and The Crickets soon embark on a national tour and they stumble upon the Apollo Theatre. Here we meet Apollo performers Fidel Lloyd, Joanne McWillie and Michael Steer; this trio not only injected humour into proceedings, Joanne McWillie’s rendition of Shout was fantastic with her excellent vocals.
As the show reaches its tragic climax, the audience is transported back to Clear Lake, Iowa in February 1959. Bursting onto the stage is Tony Orbell who sparkled, literally, as MC. It is the Winter Dance Party and Buddy Holly is now touring with the Big Bopper (played by Pete Beck) and Ritchie Valens (played by Anil Patel). Beck was superb as the Big Bopper, not only getting the entire audience on their feet, but also assuredly exuding Big Bopper’s character. Patel dazzled as pelvis-shaking Valens, with an outstanding rendition of La Bamba.
The ensemble assembles onto the stage, in a sea of colour, with marvellous costumes and dancing. The audience were immersed, dancing along and celebrating. Then, there was a sharp change, back to an acoustic True Love Ways, already touchingly performed by Anketell earlier on. In a spotlight, Buddy’s guitar, and the crackled radio announcement of the plane crash. It was an incredibly moving moment.
What is so fantastic about this musical is the fact that although it tells such a tragic tale, it really does celebrate the life of Buddy Holly. The finale is bittersweet, but an utter spectacle, and it was a great achievement for the company to have near enough every single member of the audience up on their feet dancing.
Huge credit to the director Lynne Hill and choreographer Maggie Jackson, who really brought out the heart of this show. Finally, one other very important mention is to Sheila Pearson, musical director. With exceptional harmonies and a stellar band, the music of Buddy Holly shone through.
Make sure you get a ticket to see SCMTC this week at Lichfield Garrick, because you will be dancing in the aisles and wanting to come back for more.
The Buddy Holly Story runs at Lichfield Garrick until 6 June. Tickets from £15 (£10 for children under 16) are available by clicking here or calling the Lichfield Garrick box office on 01543 412 121.
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