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

Andy Howells visits Cardiff’s New Theatre to check out Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story on its 2023 UK Tour.

“Tell your friends to come on down, Buddy Holly’s back in town!” Oh Boy! Buddy-The Buddy Holly Story has returned to Cardiff’s New Theatre and it continues to rock and roll as fabulously as its ever done before.

Buddy of course is the father of all jukebox musicals. Now, in its 34th year (it originally opened on Broadway in 1989) it remains fresh and energetic, while still been greater than the best of the rest.

Documenting the rise to stardom of 1950s rock n roller Buddy Holly and his band, The Crickets from Texan rockabilly roots, via chart success, to his final live performance in Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy remains a must-see on the theatre circuit. 

Far from been a sombre tribute to Buddy Holly, who was fatally killed on February 3, 1959, in a light airplane crash alongside Richie Valens and The Big Bopper straight after the Clear Lake concert, Buddy is a rock-tastic homage to the musical legacy the three pop legends created.

As Thursday evenings roof-raising performance proved, one of the musicals greatest strengths is that it features the Heartbeat of 1950s rock n roll. It’s impossible not to be immersed with the ensemble’s musical performances of innovative rock classics That’ll Be the Day, Peggy Sue and Everyday (complete with hand pats) to brass laden renditions of Chantilly Lace, La Bamba and It Doesn’t Matter Anymore, all brought to life vibrantly by the Buddy cast and musicians.

We also witness how ground-breaking Buddy Holly was as a performer, writing and perfecting his own material in the studio, while getting a sneak peek of him as a live performer, including playing as the first white band (with The Crickets) at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre.

Now into its third decade, Buddy remains a rockin’ treat for all the family – Rave on!

  • Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story continues at Cardiff’s New Theatre until September 16, 2023. For ticket availability visit the New Theatre website.

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