Review: Buddy-The Buddy Holly Story, New Theatre, Cardiff

Rock out and rave on! Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story is in Cardiff and Oh Boy – what a show!

Possessing raw energy and a mountain of rock n roll hits, the musical, Buddy (now in its 30th anniversary year) tells the story of Lubbock’s most famous son, music icon, Buddy Holly, his band The Crickets and their meteoric rise to fame.  From rocking out at a Texan country hayride to the final legendary performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy rocks and rolls through two hours of hits including That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue, Oh Boy and Rave On.

Al Jenks brings youth, energy and charisma to the role of Buddy, giving the music icon much personality as he sings and performs faithful renditions of Brown Eyed Handsome Man and Peggy Sue Got Married. There’s also fun and humour to the fore with Jenks’ portrayal including a scene where Buddy meets his future wife, Maria Elena played by Hannah Price. Both Jenks’ and Miss Price’s scenes together are beautifully performed including a memorable acoustic rendition of True Love Way which delivers all the sensitivity and emotion of the song in the performance.

Harry Boyd acts as the narrator of the piece, Hipockets Duncan, brilliantly assuming a variety of roles as he guides the audience through The Buddy Holly Story. Boyd’s roles include a Decca A&R man, a radio host and Buddy Holly’s producer, Norman Petty. Petty’s professionalism as a producer is undercut by his talented wife, Vi, played by Rhiannon Hopkins, who joins Buddy and The Crickets on keyboards for a memorable of Everyday.

Buddy’s partnership with The Crickets (played by Joe Butcher and Josh Haberfield) really comes to play in the first half of the show, as the audience witness the band become the first white act to play Harlem’s Apollo Theatre . Along with Miguel Angel as Tyrone Jones, Sasha Latoya as Marlena Madison and Cartier Fraser as Chantel Williams, Buddy and The Crickets turn a rock meets soul scenario into a marital bed of musical joy, conceiving the early inspirational sounds that influenced The Beatles with a blistering performance of Long Tall Sally and a rock along feel to Words of Love.

There are further musical collaborations as the show reaches a rocking climax. Joshua Barton takes to the stage as The Big Bopper encouraging audience participation on Chantily Lace, while Ben Pryer wildly shakes his hips as Richie Valens performing La Bamba. Both performances contributing to the powerhouse ensemble finale.

Assistant Musical Director, Jordan Alexander keeps the beat on track throughout and really leads the on-stage performers and the audience into a magnificent musical adrenaline rush.

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story is not only a loving homage to one of rock music’s greatest icons, its also a musical experience. If you want real rock n roll performed with drive and passion – this is the show to see!

  • Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story continues at Cardiff New Theatre until Saturday November 30.