Southern California kept on rockin' during summer 2017, in the New Village Arts/Intrepid Theatre Company co-production of Buddy, which saw an amazing run over 14 combined weeks at the Horton Grand Theatre in San Diego followed by New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad!

“Our co-production of Buddy was an unprecedented hit for New Village Arts and Intrepid Theatre. Buddy delighted thousands of San Diegans over 69 performances across our two venues. We will be hard-pressed to find another hit musical to match the excitement around Buddy
— Alex Goodman, Managing Director, New Village Arts, Inc., Carlsbad, California


Oh, boy! 'Buddy Holly Story' rare jukebox musical worth a replay (abridged)

“… Buddy — The Buddy Holly Story… triumphantly opened Sunday night at the Horton Grand Theatre downtown… to the infectious air of musical celebration.

“The first joint-production ever by San Diego’s Intrepid Theatre Company and Carlsbad’s New Village Arts Theatre, Buddy debuted in London in 1989, running there for 14 years and nearly 6,000 performances… its legacy as one of the first and longest-lived jukebox musicals can be best explained with just three words: Songs, songs, songs!

Buddy boasts more than two-dozen (songs), ranging from “That’ll Be The Day” and “Not Fade Away” to “Oh, Boy!” and “Rave On.” Melodic marvels of concision, Holly’s classics profoundly inspired — and were subsequently covered by — everyone from The Beatles and Rolling Stones to the Black Keys and Florence + The Machine.

“In the just-released text to his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Bob Dylan begins: “If I was to go back to the dawning of it all, I guess I’d have to start with Buddy Holly. Buddy died when I was about 18 and he was 22. From the moment I first heard him, I felt akin, I felt related, like he was an older brother. I even thought I resembled him.

“Buddy played the music I love, the music I grew up on — country-western, rock ’n’ roll and rhythm and blues — three separate strands of music that he intertwined and infused into one genre, one brand. Buddy wrote songs that had beautiful melodies and imaginative verses. And he sang great. He sang in more than a few voices. He was the archetype — everything I wasn’t and wanted to be.”

“Led by Paul Eddy as the titular character, the cast of Buddy delivers nearly every song with a winning sense of joyful conviction and panache.

“Eddy is not a technically great singer, but he’s a convincing one, which matters a lot more in this case. He captures Holly’s boyish musical charm and vulnerability with a welcome absence of flash or melodrama. His unvarnished vocals and guitar work have an understated appeal. So does the playing of the three actor/musicians who ably depict Holly’s backing band, The Crickets.

“Of course, the real-life story of the man born in 1936 as Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holley is undeniably compelling on its own (he quickly dropped the “e” in his surname).

Paul Eddy (centre) leads the cast to rapturous applause in San Diego (above) and Carlsbad (below)

“A small-town Texas boy who came of age in the 1950s, Holly rejected country music in favor of rock ’n’ roll. After overcoming the stifling conformity of that white-bread era, myopic record company executives, a domineering mother, and racism — his wife was from a Puerto Rican family — he became a star, seemingly overnight.

“After scoring at least 10 hit singles between 1957 and 1959, Holly died in an Iowa plane crash at the age of 22. The crash also claimed the lives of fellow rock stars Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. They are energetically portrayed in Buddy by, respectively, Shaun Tuazon and Manny Fernandez.

“Even better is Eboni Muse, who all but steals the first act with her electrifying performance… Benjamin Roy soars singing “Shout” by the Isley Brothers and “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” by Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers (whose own triumph-to-tragedy story deserves its own jukebox musical).

“Director Christy Yael-Cox generally keeps Buddy moving at a snappy pace… while Christopher Scott Murillo’s set designs are simple but effective. Nadia Guevara’s choreography shines brightest with the big production numbers — featuring the entire, 15-strong cast — that bring Buddy to a rousing close.

Buddy is jam-packed with musical treats that transcend mere nostalgia. With songs this good, the best response comes in the title of the show’s ebullient final number: “Oh, Boy!”
- George Varga, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Cast and crew of the Intrepid Theatre/New Village Arts production of Buddy (summer, 2017)

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