Buddy - Strand Theatre 1998
The show transferred to the Strand Theatre on 6th October 1995 and I think the show works much better in a smaller auditorium. My seat was quite near the front of the stalls so I was able to saviour the atmosphere and, try and see what the attraction was that has kept this show successfully running these last 8 years.
Written by Alan James and directed by Rob Bettinson, 'Buddy' is based on the rise to fame of Buddy Holly who tragically died at the age of 21. He was at the start of his career where he had achieved so much in so little time.
The first thing I have to say is that I enjoyed the show much more than I did in 1994! The songs, 'Peggy Sue', 'That'll Be The Day ', Raining In My Heart' and more are entertaining, catchy and of course are well known by many people. The story is of secondary importance with the emphasis on the songs, and considering Buddy Holly's short life this was probably the best thing to do.
The producers change the cast of 'Buddy' frequently and this has helped the show stay fresh. The present cast looks and sounds good. Craig Urbani who plays Buddy Holly performs with a lot of conviction, passion and energy, and he also has a fine voice. His pure enthusiasm showed, as he seemed to love every moment of the show. He did not quite have that Buddy Holly look about him though, but I suppose it must get difficult for the producers to keep finding talented Buddy Holly look-a-likes. However, maybe I was too close to the front and if I were further back he would look more like the real man! John-Simon Rawlings as 'The Big Bopper' puts in a bubbly performance and Theo Masos is a convincing 'Richie Valens'.
'Buddy' is a musical for fans of rock 'n' roll, and if you love this type of music you will love the show, if you don't like rock 'n' roll you could be in for a long evening!
It's probably one of the best shows we've ever seen. The plot was important, of course, but it wasn't the main experience. The main experience was the music. All the actors were singing and playing their own instruments - there was no behind the scenes orchestra. Maybe that's why we liked it so much; it was a play AND a concert combined!
The man who played Buddy, Angus MacGregor was incredible. He really sounded like Buddy Holly and he played the guitar very well and even played it backwards in the finale. The crowd got really into all the old songs, and some were even dancing in the aisles.
The audience was made a part of the play also. First, we were a little gathering down in Texas, then we were an all black crowd at the Apollo Theater in New York, and finally we were the audience in the last performance that Buddy ever put on in Clear Lake, Iowa.
The whole cast was full of energy and they really seemed like they were enjoying themselves. It's hard to believe that they had to do another show that same night! All in all, an excellent production.