Thursday, May 14, 2015

Preview: BUDDY – The Buddy Holly Story

Published in the Weekly Volcano, May 14, 2015

Matt McClure as Buddy Holly. Photo courtesy of Venice Theatre, FL. Credit: Renee McVety
Don McClean said the day Buddy Holly died was “the day the music died,” but Buddy’s music will never die. I first saw BUDDY at Tacoma Little Theatre in 2009 and then at Capital Playhouse in 2012. And now it’s going to rock the big stage at Tacoma Musical Playhouse, opening May 15 and running through June 7.

TMP artistic director Jon Douglas Rake said, “Before the Beatles, The Beach Boys or The Rolling Stones ever played a note, Rock ‘n’ Roll was forever changed by Buddy Holly, a 19-year-old kid from Texas. BUDDY – The Buddy Holly Story tells the true story of Buddy’s meteoric rise to fame, from the moment in 1957 when ‘That’ll Be the Day’ hit the airwaves until his tragic death less than two years later. The show features more than 20 hits including ‘That’ll Be the Day,’ ‘Peggy Sue,’ ‘Maybe Baby’ and ‘Oh Boy’!”

In addition to so many of Buddy’s hit songs, audiences will be treated to rousing renditions of the Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace,” and Richie Valens’ iconic “La Bamba,” as performed in the final concert in Clear Lake, Iowa, in 1959 before the plane wreck that took their lives.

The play opens with Buddy (Matt Mcclure) as a raw teenage singer at the KDAV Radio dance party at the Grand Ballroom in Lubbock, Texas, defiantly sliding from a standard country tune to a rocking “Reddy Teddy” and later fighting with his manager and a record producer because they want him to sing country and he wants to rock ‘n’ roll. It follows him to recording studios in Nashville and in Clovis, N.M., and then to the great Apollo Theatre in Harlem where he wows the audience with some of his most popular hit tunes, including “Peggy Sue” and “Not Fade Away.” We see him romancing and marrying Maria Elena (played by Deanna Martinez Niedlinger), and finally the big concert with Richie Valens (Anthony Deleon) and the Big Bopper (Lance Zielinski).

McClure played Buddy for the first time at the sold-out run of the show at Venice Theatre in Florida in January of this year. He is a graduate of Piedmont College with BA degrees in Theatre Performance and Technical Theatre. Other than Buddy, some of his favorite roles at Venice Theatre were in Don't Dress For Dinner (Robert Dubedat) and in The Elephant Man (John Merrick).

The creative team for BUDDY is Rake, director and choreographer; Jeff Strvtecky musical director; Bruce Haasl, technical director and set designer (he played Buddy at Capital Playhouse and has both designed sets for and starred in more shows in area theaters than you can shake a stick at); and John Chenault, lighting director.

BUDDY The Buddy Holly Story, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through June 7, with Saturday matinees, May 30 & June 6, $20-$29, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, 7116 Sixth Avenue, Tacoma, 253-565-6867,

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