While the West End and touring versions of Buddy have played to much larger houses, the intimacy of a fringe venue enhances the pleasure of hearing some of rock’n’roll’s most notable songs being performed with such obvious affection.
The tale of a country band struggling to be allowed to play rock’n’roll may not have much in the way of dramatic tension – pretty much the only major incident of Holly’s life came in the sudden ending of it – but it provides enough material for Janes and Bettinson’s book to provide linking material between the numbers that the audience is here for. And it is between songs that this young cast’s inexperience does, at times, show. That said, there are several strong performances, particularly from the women in the cast, with a comedic number by Deanna Farnell proving especially delightful.
But it is with the musical numbers that the entire cast has the opportunity to excel, capturing the sound and spirit of the period and with many of the actors doubling up on instruments throughout the evening. It also acts as a superb showcase for Roger Rowley, an actor who has yet to graduate, yet turns in an accomplished performance as Buddy.
_Reviewed for The Stage_
Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London, March 16-April 18
Authors: Alan Janes, Robert Bettinson
Director: John Plews
Producers: Katie Plews and Racky Plews for Ovation, by arrangement with Alan Janes for Theatre Partners and with Josef Weinberger Ltd
Cast: Emily Altneu, Andrew Ashford, Henry Barrett, Jason Blackwater, Deanna Farnell, Sean Green, Richie Hart, Roger Rowley, Patrick Rowe, Jos Slovick, Nicky Swift, Alex Wadham
Running time: 2hrs 45mins