TESTIMONIAL: Cinny Beggs, Executive Producer, Moore OnStage
“What a ride! With sold-out houses every night, we could have rocked on for another month! No matter what age, every single audience member walked out of the theatre smiling and singing. Buddy Holly lives!”
For more information visit: www.mooreonstage.org
ROCKIN' OUT: 'BUDDY' IS A SMASH HIT
by Faye M. Dasen (The Pilot – Southern Pines, February 9, 2008)
You'd better call for tickets now, because once everyone who was at the Sunrise Theater last night for the opening of Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story tells their friends, you might not get in.
This high-voltage Moore OnStage production was a big hit with the crowd, which was ready to rock 'n' roll right from the get-go.
Baxter Clement, who describes himself as "much more of a musician than an actor", takes on the role of Buddy Holly and makes it his own. His energy and passion for the music shines through all the way from first number to last.
George Akers and his brother, Adam Akers, both musicians, are Crickets Jerry J.I. Allison (drums) and Joe B. Mauldin (bass). They are wonderful, both with the music and the acting. Guitarist Charles Starcher joins in as the fourth member of the group, Niki Sullivan. He also plays a little harmonica. (Starcher is about to go on tour with Rockingham native, Bucky Covington, who did pretty well on American Idol a few seasons back.)
Lubbock, Texas, DJ Hipockets Duncan, brings the audience news of Buddy's career by way of his radio program, along with a little humor. Eric Kopecky and Michael Jones, both talented performers seen in local community theater, play multiple roles in this production
Kopecky is wonderful as Norman Petty, who is willing to let Buddy record music "his way." He also portrays the emcee of what turns out to be the final concert for Buddy, Ritchie Valens (Ryan Finley, who was superb), and J.P. Richardson, otherwise known as The Big Bopper.
Jones, in addition to playing the role of the Big Bopper, also portrays the roles of a record producer and a record company executive. Rebecca Jones is great in her small part of Vi Petty and also gets to sing a little backup for Buddy near the end. Juliet Blanks does well in her role as Maria Elena, who married Buddy six months before his death.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening – probably because the audience just wasn't expecting it – were Nazel Spears Jr. as the Apollo Theatre's emcee, and Leah Nichols, who portrayed an Apollo performer. Nichols is quite a singer. Others helping complete the production were Marvin Hanson and Joseph Thompson, whose voice were heard as DJs, Charity Haskins as Peggy Sue, and Cinny Beggs and Terri Sexton, who sang backup.
Steve Menendez, the musical director, took over the piano, and brass accompaniment was provided by Rob Hill (trumpet), Chris Shaw (trombone) and Roger Ward (saxophone).
The house was rocking by the end of the night. Don't miss this production if you can help it.
THE LEGEND LIVES ON (abridged)
by Mary Elle Hunter (The Pilot – Southern Pines, February 6, 2008)
Sandhills theatergoers and classic rock 'n' roll fans have a great chance to relive the songs of the 1950s as Moore OnStage presents Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines for the next two weekends.
It's been called "a joyous reopening of a musical memory book" and "a bona fide crowd pleaser" by reviewers across the country.
Moore OnStage Executive Producer Cinny Beggs, who couldn't resist taking a turn on stage as one of the backup singers in the production, has assembled a talented cast to bring this musical celebration of the legendary singer/songwriter to local audiences. Born in Lubbock, Texas, Charles Hardin Holley, better known as Buddy Holly, shot to stardom in 1957, only to die in a plane crash two years later.
Holly, who adopted a contractual misspelling of his name as his stage name, came from a musical family, and learned to play the violin, piano and guitar. Early on, he was part of a duo singing harmony duets in Lubbock clubs, and subsequently formed The Crickets with two friends. With the support of a local radio DJ, they started to carve out a career in music.
The Crickets began recording in Clovis, NM, with an innovative producer, Norman Petty. There they produced his biggest hit, "That'll Be the Day," which rocketed up the charts and reached No. 1 within two weeks.
Buddy recreates the account of their rise to fame, interspersed with the songs that brought them recognition as one of the most popular early rock 'n' roll groups. In 1959, Holly split with The Crickets and began a solo tour with other notable performers, including Richie Valens and J. P. Richardson, known as "The Big Bopper."
Commenting on the script of Buddy, director Robbie Gay says it also focuses on Holly's personal style that had an influence on youth culture on both sides for the Atlantic for years. "He tried so many different things, musically," says Gay. "Norman Petty, with whom he worked in New Mexico, allowed him to experiment with all kinds of different sounds - like having the drummer use a cardboard box filled with cotton, or having the rhythm beaten out by the drummer clapping on his knees, instead of using the usual drum sticks."
Gay, who is from Cullman, AL, originally, says he is very passionate about The Buddy Holly Story. He explains that when Holly grew up in west Texas in the 1940s and early 1950s, the area was strictly segregated. One of Holly's first encounters with prejudice was within his own home. He had met Little Richard, the African-American singer, who was appearing in Lubbock, and invited him home for dinner. His parents refused to let Little Richard in the house. Their son's response was if they wouldn't welcome Little Richard as a guest, he would never cross the threshold again.
"The attitude of segregation was just not in his makeup," says Gay. "I admire Buddy, who was able to step out of the tight-reined, conservative mind-set in the way that he did, and to be genuinely good-natured in accepting people for whoever they were. He was a unique mixture of determination, humor and charm."
Baxter Clement, who is playing Buddy Holly, is a Southern Pines resident. Having grown up in the Sandhills, Clement went to the North Carolina School of the Arts and Vanderbilt University, before studying at the Mozartium in Austria on a guitar scholarship. When he came back to the United States, he spent several years playing in pit orchestras for such Broadway shows as Rent and Jesus Christ Superstar, as well as for a number of off-Broadway shows. He has also toured with various rock bands.
Returning to Southern Pines about two years ago, Clement opened a music school and recording studio. "I wanted to give kids in a town like Southern Pines the advantages of my background and experience," he says. "I bring down musician friends from New York, like a professor at Juilliard, who give master classes."
Clement grew up listening to Buddy Holly with his father, who was a big fan. "I have always known and liked the music, and being a rock 'n' roller myself, playing Buddy is a great opportunity for me," he says. "However, since I am much more of a musician than an actor, I have had to rely on Robbie to help me step into the part and get the proper characterization. I respect Buddy Holly, and I want to be sure that I do it right.
"I don't want to let anyone down who doesn't know what a wonderful person he was. He broke down racial and musical barriers, and I have struggled with the challenge of presenting him as a real person, not just a singer of songs."
Steve Menendez, the musical director for the show, says, "Buddy Holly produced an amazing volume of material over a short period of time, and the music is so much fun. Baxter Clement is 'terrific,' playing lead guitar."
The core group of players, composed of a second guitar, stand-up bass and drums, are supplemented by Menendez providing piano accompaniment. Some of the numbers also include a saxophone, horn and trombone player.
The sponsor of this production is Clement and Cox Capital Group.
Opening night for the production is Friday, Feb. 8, with a wine reception hosted by Billie Ertter from Hair Biz at the Cottage, beginning at 6 p.m. and show time at 7:30 p.m.