Touring – reviewed at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
Oh Boy! Buddy Holly was back in the room, as Alex Fobbester took on the role of the music legend and rocked the Wolverhampton Grand. I was brought up listening to Buddy Holly songs, and I am unashamed to say that I know the lyrics to every song, so I was in my element with this fantastic tribute.
With musicians and singers who all radiated so much energy, enthusiasm and vibe, hit song after hit song played and sung remarkably accurately in an incredible impersonation – this musical is not to be missed. If you know about Buddy Holly’s life, you’ll enjoy it and it’s an education if you were previously unaware. If you are familiar with the tragedy that ensues, I expect that (like me) you will urge him not to get on that aeroplane and try to change history.
Buddy Holly’s story is a bitter sweet one, so much success in one so young and so many incredible hits, as well as falling in love and getting married to Maria Elena (Kerry Low) extraordinarily quickly. With a baby on the way and the world at his feet, everything was peachy for the musician who made it OK to wear glasses. His wife has voiced concerned that she had dreamed a premonition of a plane crash involving the star, she pleaded with him not to go on the tour which would lead to Holly’s tragic plane journey.
Also killed on that fateful trip were Ritchie Valens (played in this show by Jordan Cunningham) and The Big Bopper (played by Thomas Mitchells). Cunningham is a fantastic match for Valens and La Bamba was a highlight for me. Mitchells as The Big Bopper was outstandingly accurate, big personality as well as voice and the standard “Helloooo Baby” which paved the way for some audience interaction. This was another strength that the cast possessed, they encouraged audience participation and it felt as though we were part of the show. Joe B Maudlin was portrayed superbly by Joe Butcher and Josh Haberfield was also extremely notable as Jerry Allison. The girls in the ensemble also turned their hands to many roles, previously mentioned Kerry Low and Celia Cruwys-Finnigan were both integral parts of the cast.
Jordan Cunningham struts his stuff as Ritchie Valens
The scenery transitions were smooth, it was a practical set which framed the action and there were poignant touches all the way through. It was right up my street to sing along to Rave On, Peggy Sue, Not Fade Away and Brown Eyed Handsome Man, amongst other well known songs – and I would watch it again in a Heartbeat!