Buddy Holly has been described by critic Bruce Eder as “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.”
And, starting Feb. 22, you can find out why when the Chemainus Theatre Festival presents the musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. Deemed the “world’s most successful rock ‘n’ roll musical,” the show features 20 iconic songs that have had 22 million music fans rockin’ in their seats.
Show director and choreographer Sara-Jeanne Hosie is a musical veteran at the Chemainus Theatre, having directed and choreographed the 2012 musical Chickens and appeared as Patsy Cline in 2011’s A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline. In her latest endeavour, Hosie recreates the brilliance and brashness of Holly’s journey from humble country music roots to the top of the charts — and the despair of his untimely death in a plane crash.
“It’s all rollicking emotion,” says Hosie, describing the pace at which audiences relive the musician’s biggest highs and lows.
The story, written by Alan Janes, touches on Holly’s exciting burst onto the music scene (with his “devil’s music”), first taste of fame (with No. 1 hit That’ll Be the Day), struggle for artistic control, whirlwind romance and marriage, and his famous final performance.
In the lead role is veteran Buddy star Zachary Stevenson. The Parksville-raised actor, musician and graduate of the University of Victoria theatre department has donned pressed suits and horn-rimmed glasses to play Holly in productions of Buddy in Ontario and Alberta. A passionate fan of the icon’s musical ingenuity — and an uncanny reflection of the iconic songwriter and composer —Stevenson is thrilled to once again share the story of how his idol changed the face of popular music and paved the way for future rock n’ rollers.
A jukebox musical calls for plenty of rousing hits, and Buddy delivers with such popular songs as Peggy Sue, Oh Boy, Maybe Baby, Not Fade Away and the famous music (and faces) of Ritchie Valens’ La Bamba and “the Big Bopper” J.P. Richardson’s Chantilly Lace.
Energizing each note is musical director and Buddy veteran Danny Balkwill. Backed by a toe-tapping live band and excellent choreography, Balkwill brings audiences an authentic Holly-style concert experience.
The cast of Buddy brings life to poignant plot lines and a contagious sense of fun to the show. The professional actors who adopt multiple song and dance roles include: Kraig Waye (Joe B. Maudlin/Dion), Danny Balkwill (Jerry Allison/MC), Greg Barry (Hipockets Duncan/Big Bopper), Jess Amy Shead (Maria Elena/Snow Bird), Darren Burkett (Richie Valens), Scott Perrie (Hayrider/Fourth Cricket), Christopher King (Norman Petty/Hayrider), Craig Salkeld (Murray Deutch/Hayrider), Janet Gigliotti (Vi Petty/Jingle Singer/Snow Bird), Sarah Carlé (Peggy Sue/Hayrider/Jingle Singer), and Jenni Burke (Apollo Performer/Snow Bird).
Setting the scene of 1950s hellfire and nostalgia is the skillful production team of set designer Omanie Elias, lighting designer Rebekah Johnson, costumer designer Norma Bowen, sound designer Paul Tedeschini and stage manager David Baughan.
Buddy, which runs from Feb. 22 to April 7, is the first production of the Chemainus Theatre Festival’s 21st season, a year in which audiences are promised theatrical “heart and soul.”
Chemainus Theatre Festival artistic director Mark DuMez believes Buddy will be a memorable standout in the theatre’s tradition of outstanding musical performances, which have included Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, All Shook Up, Fiddler on the Roof, Guys and Dolls, and dozens more successful shows.
“Our 2013 performances will be alive, appealing and exciting,” says DuMez. “From our intimate stage, we will be bursting with celebration and laughter, delving into mystery and discovering redemption through powerful stories.”
In addition to Buddy, the 2013 lineup includes Delicious Lies (April 26 to May 18), Good Timber (May 22 to June 1), Singin’ In The Rain (June 14 to Aug. 25), A Pretty Girl (Sept. 13 to 28), Dracula (Oct. 11 to Nov. 9) and It’s a Wonderful Life (Nov. 22 to Dec. 23).
Tickets for Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story are available for evening and matinee performances and can be purchased online at www.chemainustheatrefestival.ca or by calling the Chemainus Theatre Festival box office at 1-800-565-7738.
Wednesday audiences can reveal even more about the Buddy story and production by joining members of the artistic team for a Talk Back session after the show.
The Chemainus Theatre Festival also offers ticket enhancement packages that include a fresh, seasonal buffet meal in the Playbill Dining Room or an overnight stay at the Best Western Chemainus Festival Inn.