BEFORE TRAGEDY STRIKES, ‘BUDDY’ IS A WHOLE LOT OF FUN
“On Feb. 3, 1959, three young rock ‘n’ roll pioneers met a tragic end, but their legacy and music lives on at Maine State Music Theatre whose foot-stomping, hip shaking rendition of Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story
is packed with talent and loads of fun.
“Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark is celebrating his 10th season producing shows at Maine State and couldn’t resist bringing back the production, which sold out in 2014. “Buddy
makes people happy, and I strongly feel that we all need a good dose of happiness these days,” Clark wrote in the show’s program.
“Although the story ends tragically, Buddy Holly’s meteoric rise to fame is a feel-good romp through the era of bobby socks, poodle skirts and the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s hard not to fall in love with the production and its infectious music that gets audiences on their feet and dancing, young and old.Production photos: Jared Morneau
“The current rendition is directed – both production-wise and musically – and choreographed by Angela C. Howell, who also acts in the musical as Vi Petty, wife to the legendary record producer, Norman Petty (played by Luke Darnell). He’s among the few returning cast members, along with Jayson Elliott (as The Big Bopper) and Troy Valjean Rucker (Tyrone Jones).
“Andrew Harvey stars as Buddy Holly. In dark-rimmed glasses, the tall, lanky actor/musician bears a striking resemblance to Holly, delivering a spirited performance that captures Holly’s relentless drive and passion for rock ‘n’ roll.
“Harvey is backed by Ken Sandberg on drums and Noah Berry on stand-up bass, as his Cricket bandmates Jerry Allison and Joe B. Mauldin, and Mike Dorsey on guitar as the “fourth Cricket.” They are all multi-talented and a joy to watch as they deliver mini performances and reenact the recording sessions of Buddy Holly and The Crickets’ hit records. Berry provides additional entertainment by flipping his large bass in the air and perching on it while continuing to play.
“A large screen at the back of the stage is beautifully utilized to enhance the fast-moving story. The audience meets a lot of memorable characters along the story’s three-year journey, including Holly’s supportive DJ friend, Hipockets Duncan (Scott Wakefield); Holly’s wife, Maria Elena (Sarah Miramontes); the Apollo Theater performers (Jannie Jones and Rucker) and a scene-stealing beauty queen named Mary Lou Sokolof (Sarah Hund). Jones is unforgettable as the Apollo performer, eliciting a standing ovation for her soulful voice and fiery performance. Justin Marriel Boyd deserves special recognition, stepping into his various roles for the duration of the run, just 72 hours before opening night.
“The show’s energy kicks into high gear and full concert mode in the second act as the story winds to a close. It’s Feb. 2, 1959. Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens (Diego Guevara) are playing their final concert at the Surf Ballroom and the Brunswick audience is transported back in time to witness that historic event.
“Songs include 'Chantilly Lace' (The Big Bopper), 'Maybe Baby' and 'Peggy Sue Got Married' (Buddy Holly and the Clearlake Band), and 'La Bamba' (Valens, backed by Holly and the Clearlake Band). It’s a particular treat when the three join forces on 'Rave On' and 'Johnny B. Goode'.
“Elliott and Guevara are fabulously cast, with Elliott embodying The Big Bopper’s bigger-than-life personality and Guevara channelling Valens’ seductive dance moves.
“Buddy is a delightful, well-staged production that old-time fans of ’50s rock ‘n’ roll and new listeners both can fall in love with. The production is uplifting fun, with encores that have the audience standing and singing along as the timeless rhythms of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens take hold.”
—April Boyle, Portland Press Herald
MAINE STATE MUSIC THEATRE’S ‘BUDDY – THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY’ WILL HAVE YOU SCREAMING FOR AN ENCORE
“Maine State Music Theatre is transporting audiences back to the 1950s with its second show of the season, Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story
, for the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll experience that will have you begging for an encore.
“Director and Choreographer Angela C. Howell thought out every detail to make this a standout show, including dancing on top of instruments, twirling sunglasses in unison and basking in every comedic moment, no matter how small. Howell also performs in the show as Vi Petty, a music producer’s wife, who shocked Buddy Holly and his band with her piano-playing skills.
“MSMT’s performance will have you clapping, dancing and singing along, no matter your age. Whether you bought his albums in the ’50s, heard him on your parent’s radio in the ’90s or are hearing his music for the first time, by the end of the show you will be hooked. For all those Gen-Z audience members out there, you will leave the theater Googling Buddy Holly just before you download the show soundtrack.
“Holly (Andrew Harvey) gives a genuine and heartfelt performance that makes you fall in love with him by the end of the show… Harvey embodies the character head to toe… his guitar skills are also top-notch.
“The cast of master musicians, singers and actors sprinkle memorable moments throughout the show, including the impressive number 'Shout' performed by Janine Jones and Troy Valjean Rucker. Between Jones’ vocals and Rucker’s sassy saxophone skills, the two bring the house down. By the end of Act 1, the theater buzzes with excitement.
“Act 2 pulls you in with love, loss and an epic concert showcasing ’50s artists The Big Bopper (Jayson Elliot), Ritchie Valens (Diego Guevara) and Holly… By the end of the show, everyone in the audience is on their feet singing 'Johnny B. Goode'. Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story
is a truly immersive experience; seeing it once is not enough.”
— Maria Skillings, The Times Record
IT’S SO EASY TO FALL IN LOVE WITH 'BUDDY – THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY' AT MSMT (abridged)
“The Buddy Holly Story is a true celebration of an unlikely rock 'n' roll star in this wildly entertaining crowd-pleaser of a show. At Maine State Music Theater on opening night, it was hard to decide where to look. Was this a group of superb musicians also performing as actors? This reviewer watched hands plucking, playing and was breathless that they did all of it. Thankfully for the crowd, this cast was flawless, acting, playing and bringing each part to life with infectious energy.
“Director/Choreographer/Musical Director Angela Howell did a herculean job of balancing human drama with exciting music. She never allowed her audience to lose touch with the fact that these were real people. She led her cast to sensitive performances while featuring these multi-talented instrumentalists. Then, as icing on the cake, she leads many sequences from the keyboards, in the part of Vi Petty. Triple Brava to a triple threat.
“This sensational production at Maine State Music Theater pulls out all the stops. It is a gift, with delightful visuals and boy howdy can everyone sing. The cast members play several instruments, sing and dance, and often juggle double or triple roles.
“Andrew Harvey (Buddy Holly) gives everything… and does it with a charm that kept the audience in the palm of his hands… The Big Bopper, Jayson Elliott, explodes onto the stage in the Clear Lake concert singing 'Chantilly Lace' and leaves folks wanting more… Then there is Diego Guevara as Ritchie Valens, whose 'La Bamba' at the Clear Lake concert is a showstopper – and a heart-breaker. When the audience, who fell hard for the sassy kid, learns that he was only 17 at the time of the plane crash late that night, there was an audible gasp in the darkened house… A juke-box musical can’t work without a strong supporting cast, and in this case each cast member is stellar. With many stand-outs… the dynamite ensemble, as actors and as singers and musicians they all shine.
“There are moments here that make you laugh, moments that make you forget that you are witnessing the literal swansongs of three performers that were just kids who were about to lose their lives and still influence music for generations… MSMT, Curt Dale Clark and crew have honored that legacy proudly.
“I’ll end with someone else’s words. Sometimes the best comments come from the audience. From Liza Keene: 'The Buddy Holly Story
at MSMT is one of, if not the best live performance I have ever seen. It was an incredibly immersive experience, I felt like I was there at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, at the theatre in Clear Lake, IA. I actually felt like I had travelled back in time. It.Was.Amazing. SO amazing that I hope to go back to see it again. Highly recommended!'
“The cast for MSMT’s revival of BUDDY - The Buddy Holly Story
include Andrew Harvey in the title role of Buddy Holly, Diego Guevara as Ritchie Valens and Jayson Elliott reprising his role at MSMT in 2014, Big Bopper. Also featured in the cast/on stage band are Hailey Aviva, Noah Berry, Justin Marriel Boyd, Luke Darnell, Mike Dorsey, David Girolmo, Angela Howell, Sarah Hund, Jannie Jones, Adam Lasalle, Sarah Miramontes, Troy Valjean Rucker, Ken Sandberg and Scott Wakefield.
“MSMT’s production and creative team of BUDDY - The Buddy Holly Story
: Angela Howell (Director, Music Director, Choreographer), Donavan Dolan (Production Stage Manager), Charles Kading (Scenic Design), Ryan Joyner (Projections), Annalise Caudle (Lighting), Shannon Slaton (Sound Design), Jane Alois Stein (Costume Design), Kevin Foster (Wig and Hair Design).”
— Eleanor Cade Busby, Boothbay Register
“The show was a great success!”
- Stephanie Dupal, Managing Director, Maine State Music Theatre, Brunswick, Maine
Production photos by Urdaneta Photography and Judy Beedle Photography:
“To witness an entire audience on its feet, joyfully clapping, singing and dancing in the aisles… was a tribute to the triumphant production of The Buddy Holly Story with which Maine State Music Theatre opened its 56th season... Buddy features a largely youthful and hugely talented cast of music theatre singer-actor-musicians, dazzling production values, and demonstrates the company’s ability to forge an intense connection with its audience... The 1989 show is one of the best beloved of its genre, not only for the era of lost innocence and incipient rebellion which it conjures up, but also for the strength of its tragic, yet heartwarming story. The book by Alan Janes weaves together the storybook succession of events which catapulted Holly to stardom with wit and warmth, creating characters who manage to avoid both stereotype and idolization...
“Director/choreographer Donna Drake stages the production with a fluid musicality, shaping the story arc with empathetic sincerity, and creating characters who are not mere cardboard cut-outs of rock legends. Rounding out the original Crickets trio, Matthew J. Riordan plays a convincing backup guitar; Joe Cosmo Cogen is a loveable, goofy Jerry Allison, and Sam Weber delivers a show stopping turn as bassist Joe B. Maudlin. Weber uses his bass almost as a human partner, dancing fireworks, and bringing an endearing, sometimes outrageous comic twist to the musician’s character”
– Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold, BroadwayWorld.com
“Being in the audience was being transported back in time from 1957 to 1959, along for a remarkable part of American popular musical history... The Buddy Holly show is a delight. Don’t miss it”
– Gina Hamilton, The Times Record
“Largely joyful, often funny and bursting with fabulous Holly renditions... Buddy is a moving story told with feeling by a talented cast. As Holly, Andy Christopher has a lyrical, gentle presence that becomes electrifying when he starts to rock. It’s clear from the first trademark hiccup in 'That’ll Be the Day', that Christopher is in love with the songs, which he delivers in a beautiful tenor, paying tribute to Holly without brute impersonation. His dance background is evident in subtle movements at the microphone and smashing rock-star leaps and kicks”
– Jennifer Brewer, Portland Press Herald
“If you can only see one show this Summer you will not be disappointed with this one…”
– The Cryer
“…an exuberant stage tribute to [a] rock-and-roll pioneer…”
– The Forecaster
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