BUDDY: THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY
Tues 26 Nov, New Theatre, Cardiff
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story has been running for 30 years around the globe with 25,000 performances, but the show has not aged a bit. At least, it didn’t seem that way. As soon as the curtain came up, I was transported to 1950s Lubbock, Texas. Being an avid Buddy fan since my early childhood, I could tell that the resemblance of AJ Jenks was uncanny. As clichéd as it may sound, it really did feel like I was in the room with the man himself: the lanky figure, the thick-rimmed glasses and the suede were enough to fool me into a happy trance for two and a half hours, and this feeling of nostalgia didn’t leave me until long after the show was over.
It must be said that the talent present within the show was astounding. My friend even bought binoculars to see if the guitar-playing was real (because it really was that good).
The show is narrated by different presenters and managers throughout Buddy’s career, which gave the musical a clever touch often absent in other tribute shows. We were taken through the years of 1956-1959. The addition of The Big Bopper (Joshua Barton) and Ritchie Valens (Ben Pryer) were wonderful, with entertaining versions of Chantilly Lace and La Bamba. The dancing, acting and sheer musical talent apparent within the cast kept me jiggling in my seat throughout.
The authenticity was second to none, down to Buddy’s iconic Fender Stratocaster and his personal guitar, the Gibson J-45, featured in the beautiful rendition of True Love Ways. The friendship between Buddy and his Cricketers blossomed and perfectly captured the brotherhood that ended far too soon. AJ Jenks’s personal quirks as Buddy were especially convincing, particularly the small things that only the biggest of fans could recognise. Buddy’s iconic leg shake and his goofy laugh were replicated, along with his iconic vocal riffs.
The dreaded death scene will tug on your heart (and guitar) strings – a young musician taken from the world at the age of 22. It left us with the knowledge of Buddy’s impact on 1950s rock’n’roll and what wonderful things he could have gone on to do.
words MOLLY GOVUS
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story is at New Theatre Cardiff until Sat 30 Nov. Tickets and info here.