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The Buddy Holly Story | Wycombe Swan

We were invited to see The Buddy Holly Story, the smash-hit musical telling the story of American singer songwriter Buddy Holly, at the Wycombe Swan Theatre. This sensational multi award-winning West End and Broadway show first opened in 1989 and has been thrilling audiences around the world ever since (and is still as strong as ever!).

We start at the KDAV (the nation's first all-country radio station) Sunday party, which were held every week, and we are introduced to Hipockets Duncan, an energetic and exuberant hometown radio DJ. It was a great start with live music on the stage, setting a great atmosphere and showed the incredible talent of these actor-musicians, with lots more to come. The costumes were great and really transported us back to the 50s. We were then told we would be taken from 1956 when Buddy Holly first played until the sad day of his death in 1959.

The way they did this was effective as we moved seamlessly through the eras of Buddy’s life with scene and costume changes to help. There was a screen at the back which changed depending on whether we were in a music studio or a live event and this was a really simple yet effective way of showing the different scenes and locations. At the Apollo in Harlem, the staging and direction was great as we were transported seamlessly from the front of the stage and seeing the acts perform to backstage. This was well managed and a really inventive way to show both sides.

Chris Weeks reprised the role of Buddy Holly at this performance and played the guitar brilliantly with so much skill and talent, playing everything completely live and incorporating incredible characterisation - he truly has Buddy Holly down to a T. There was also a great brass band actually on stage as part of the show which really elevated the overall sound.

Stephanie Cremona, who plays Vi Petty, also played the piano and an alternate piano called a Celesta. I loved that they had actor-musicians in most of the roles, who were all very talented and worked extremely hard to not only tell the story, but also play incredible live music. The whole cast did this very well and it made for a very unique and whole-sounding score and overall sound to the music. I want to give a big shout out to Thomas Mitchell. He played several different characters and was completely successful in adapting each role using only small and subtle changes to his characterisations, which made me forget that I was watching the same actor.

The second half was mainly the Clearlake Winter show, in which the audience was submerged into immersive theatre as we played the role of the audience of the show. Miguel Angel played Ritchie Valens, and his performance of hit song La Bamba was a standout moment. The second half of the show has less of a storyline and truly focuses on the musical elements. There was lots of audience participation and the atmosphere of this much older audience was electric, with people reminiscing on memories and enjoying some of their favourite classic songs.

Suddenly, the stage went black and the curtains closed and opened to just a guitar under a spotlight at front of stage. A voice then told us that the plane had crashed and Buddy at only 22 years, and several others, had all died. An incredibly sad moment, portrayed so well. You could hear a pin drop in the auditorium and the electric atmosphere very quickly changed to a sombre one of remembrance.

The curtains then reopen and the finale is with all the cast on stage remembering Buddy through great songs, audience participation and a big brass band combined with the incredible talents of the amazing cast, with lots of instruments on stage to see and hear. A fantastic end to a great show.

Buddy! - The Buddy Holly Story overall, although having a much older audience demographic, is a really fun and lively show for all ages which I came away from smiling. This is a great night out full of music and memories with an incredible atmosphere across the audience. The Buddy Holly Story continues on its UK tour of theatres around the UK until the 14th October. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


{AD | Gifted}


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