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Review: Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Theatre Royal, Newcastle

Toni Marie Ford takes in the classic musical whcih features Newcastle's Glen Joseph as the original rock and roller

****
Buddy Holly & Apollo Performers (Glen Joseph, Lydia Frazer, Dion D'Lucia)
Buddy Holly & Apollo Performers (Glen Joseph, Lydia Frazer, Dion D'Lucia)

The first-night audience were surely left with sore hands and feet from clapping and toe-tapping after this production of a musical now in its 25th year.

And the star of the show, Newcastle’s Glen Joseph, dazzled as the original rock and roll star.

Skillfully exposing Buddy’s conflicting personality, at once naive and driven, geeky and charismatic, and perfectly imitating his unique performance style, Joseph even had that famous ‘hiccough’ down to a tee.

My guest for the night has Buddy Holly on her iTunes playlist, a serious accolade, and confirms he is good. Very good.

The show features the musician and singer-songwriter overcoming adversity, an over-protective mother, reluctant radio DJs and greedy music executives, not to mention the racial divide in popular music of the 1950s, and it is more of a tribute concert than a bio-musical: perhaps the closest today’s audience can get to the real Buddy Holly and the Crickets.

The cast is wonderful cast and even the most uncompromising Buddy Holly fans should leave the theatre on a high.

There was something surreal about hearing the whole audience quietly singing along to Everday and it’s impossible not to be swept away by the smooth, chocolately, Sunday afternoon vibe of Holly’s love songs.

His high energy hits struck a chord too and, as always, it was a joy to see people up on their feet and dancing in this stunning theatre.

The ladies of the production deserve a special mention for their energy, incredible vocal and musical versatility and their unwavering toothpaste-commercial smiles. A special mention too to the pelvis of Richie Valance: watch the show and you’ll understand.

We all know the tragic ending of Buddy’s but this is musical theatre: there are no tears on the day the music died, only a rapturous, stand-up-and-swing-dance-in-the-aisles rendition of Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode.

Toni Marie Ford

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