DEVONPORT CHORAL SOCIETY, Devonport, Tasmania, Australia

Standing ovations and sold-out shows marked a rip-roaring return to live theatre in May of 2021 Down Under, with this electric production at the Paranaple Arts Centre in northern Tasmania!

“Our production was a huge success, both artistically and financially, and was loved by our audiences. You have been an absolute pleasure to work with. The level of support you have given us has been outstanding! You communicated with us regularly and well, and all materials were supplied in a timely and convenient manner, which made the administration side of the show so easy. No masks, being able to reach 100 percent venue capacity, months without live theatre and music, and the chance to go out with family and friends to watch a lively, talented production like Buddy has brought the crowds out and wanting more. I would have no hesitation in recommending Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story to other theatre companies. Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to produce this fantastic piece of musical theatre”
— Maree Brodzinski, President, Devonport Choral Society, Devonport, Tasmania, Australia

Photos: Jess Walker

Reviews (abridged):

“Don McLean’s 1971 song, ‘American Pie’ refers to the tragic death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper as ‘The Day the Music Died’. Well, little did he account for Sid Sidebottom and his Devonport Choral Society’s 2021 cast, because if you visit the Town Hall over the next few weeks, it will be very clear that Buddy’s legacy and music is far from dead.

“Jam-packed with 25 of the 1950’s most iconic musical numbers… what a clever choice by the Devonport Choral to select this deliberate concert-style show, safeguarding any unforeseen interruptions by COVID-19.

“This tight, well-rehearsed ensemble of 12, led by Ezra Shelverton in the title role of Buddy Holly, spend 100 long minutes returning energy and colour to the stage of the paranaple arts centre.

“Belinda Gunson and Jenny Slater take us on a trip down memory lane with a finely detailed, era specific set design. Wendy McCrae has matched the pizzaz of performances with equally glamourous costumes, all supporting the audience’s transportation into the ‘50s… sassy, soulful performers at the Apollo, played exquisitely by Tash Turner and Erin Araroa… establish strong audience participation which becomes a pivotal acceleration for the energy that just keeps building from there.

“The storyline is carried and narrated by the charismatic DJ, Hipockets Duncan, played by Joel King… A standout moment of intimate contrast was divinely played out by Shelverton and Buddy's soon-to-be widowed bride, Maria Elena Santiago played convincingly by Taylor Rand… Joy oozed from the four young men playing the Crickets. Together with Shelverton, Zac Weeks (Joe B. Mauldin), Janzen Reynolds (Jerry Allison) and an incredibly mature performance from 14-year-old new-comer, Lucas Hodge (Niki Sullivan) made us all feel like the Crickets were the coolest band to be around. It's hard to believe that Reynolds has never played the drums! Serious hours have obviously been invested in some hard-core characterisation and musicianship, backed by the well-honed Buddy Holly Orchestra, conducted competently by David Turner.

“The show ends as dramatically as Buddy’s life, but the audience is left alone to briefly reflect before the energy returns, ensuring we leave the theatre feeling as alive as the music we’ve witnessed.

“In light of recent local government decisions (not too far from Devonport) to make considerable cuts to community arts projects, I urge our community to support our local theatre companies doing their very best to provide arts experiences that move us, entertain us or challenge our thinking. Netflix screens can’t possibly provide the same amount of enjoyment, nor provide the much-needed injection of culturally rich entertainment for regional communities like ours. Book a restaurant, meet some friends and get along to not only celebrate the life and music of Buddy Holly, but the reawakening of live theatre in Devonport.”
— Dayna Dennison, North West Ambassador - National Musical Theatre Festival, Theatre Teacher, Don College, The Advocate (May 19, 2021)

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