NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE, Beverly, Massachusetts

New England audiences enjoyed an unforgettable production of Buddy at NSMT's renowned and unique arena-style theater for two weeks during summer 2022.

by James Sullivan, The Boston Globe

“Though the audience knows how the story ends, Buddy focuses on his ascent. Director Marcos Santana (who has also directed In the Heights and West Side Story) and his crew pay close attention to detail, from some impeccable period costuming to the pink settee on which Buddy’s new wife, Maria Elena, perches in a satin nightgown while he debuts “True Love Ways” for her, and her alone.

“With Buddy, the Crickets – upright bassist Joe B. Mauldin (played by Brian Russell Carey) and drummer Jerry Allison (Seth Eliser) – work out their songs as though we’re witnessing their creation. “Peggy Sue” begins as an a cappella rhumba called “Cindy Lou” — they end it with “cha cha cha” — before it evolves into of Holly’s best-known rave-ups. All three actors are solid musicians, and McClure has Holly’s stutters and hiccups down to a T (as in Texas).
All photos © Paul Lyden
Matt McClure (Buddy Holly) and the cast of Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story at North Shore Music Theatre

“A long sequence that covers Holly’s legendary performances at the Apollo Theater in Harlem provides some uncomfortable tension. The segregation of the 1950s is unavoidable. “No more of that colored music!” as the Lubbock radio DJ who helped launch Holly to stardom shouts.

“The extended finale recreates the revue-style concert of Buddy’s last night onstage, at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. As Buddy and his tour mates, the Big Bopper (Craig Underwood) and Ritchie Valens (Ryan Reyes), prepare for the show, the backstage setting is evoked by a single prop – a rigging framework of ropes, pulleys, and sandbags. Credit scenic designer Kyle Dixon, a frequent Music Theatre returnee.

“The ensemble takes full advantage of the theater’s iconic central stage. Underwood embodies the Big Bopper’s lasciviousness; the horn players tease out a mariachi flair for Buddy’s “Heartbeat,” which hints at one direction the singer may have headed had he lived.

“I want to do things people haven’t even started to think about,” Buddy says a little earlier in the show, as he’s leaving behind his manager and the Crickets for his new life in New York City. The show leaves you wondering.”

Seth Eliser (Jerry Allison), Matt McClure (Buddy Holly), and Brian Russell Carey (Joe B. Mauldin) in Buddy

Matt McClure (Buddy Holly) and Maria Cristina Posada Slye (Maria Elena)

Jaelle Laguerre (Apollo Singer) with Yasir Muhammad, Sydney Williams, and David LaMarr (Apollo Performers)

by Linda Chin, New England Theatre Mirror

“The journey through Holly’s songbook featuring over 20 of his greatest hits was glorious overall...

“Director and Choreographer Marcos Santana and Music Director Milton Granger make the most of the rich musical material with excellent casting choices, leading with the multi-talented Matt McClure in the titular role. Backing up Holly on lead guitar are his bandmates The Crickets, including rhythm guitarist Tommy Allsup (Danny Adams), drummer Jerry Allison (Seth Aliser), and bass player Joe B. Maudlin (Brian Russell Carey). Carey is quite the showman, at times hoisting the bass overhead or playing it upside down.

Craig Underwood as 'The Big Bopper'

Ryan Reyes as Ritchie Valens

“Two musical numbers performed with incredible technique and intense passion at the end of Acts I and II make a powerful impact. The Act II number depicts the February 2, 1959 Winter Dance Party in Clear Lake, Iowa, and features a crowd-pleasing rendition of ‘Johnny B. Goode’, Ritchie Valens’ (Ryan Veyes) ‘La Bamba’, and Big Bopper J.P. Richardson’s (Craig Underwood) ‘Chantilly Lace’.

“In the closing number for Act I, with Holly… and the Crickets making an appearance at the iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY. Apollo regulars Jaelle Laguerre (one of the sensational stepsisters in NSMT’s Cinderella) and David LaMarr start out with skepticism, but after the positive audience reception, join in the fun. The resulting blend of rhythms, instruments and performers of different races is magical, and reminds us of both the power of music to unite and rock ‘n roll’s important place in American history.”

Kent M. Lewis as Norman Petty

Matt McClure (Buddy Holly) and James Beaman (Hipockets Duncan)

by Marielle Sabbag, Geeks - Vocal Media

“Opening night of The Buddy Holly Story was unforgettable… With all the actors dancing, singing, and performing their instruments, it’s a boatload of fun… The entire audience was having the best time bopping… and singing along… Before completing the final note of ‘Johnny B. Goode’, the audience stood up giving all the performers a one-minute standing ovation… Marcos Santana excelled in the direction of the show”

Matt McClure as Buddy Holly

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