The audience at the Grand Opera House was two tiered, those of us old enough to have grown up with the music of Buddy Holly and the younger ones who were meeting him for the first time and realising just what a remarkable story this is.
Born in 1936, died when he was only 22 and active on the recording scene for only three years. As we heard, those three years produced an outstanding portfolio of hits, far too many to list – Peggy Sue, Oh Boy, True Love Ways, Chantilly Lace, Raining in my Heart amongst them – my teenage years with all the joys and heartbreaks came alive. There was laughter and there were tears.
Buddy’s musical life was slow to take off and so was this production, setting the scene and telling the initial story requires a lot of words and the sound was unbalanced and the stage seemed very empty. Most of us had preconceived ideas knowing the story and my vision of Buddy was tall, gangly and thin which wasn’t the case with our young man but he was convincing as he and the Crickets were determined not to be branded a Country ’n Western group and kept plugging away with their rock n’ roll until people began to sit up and take notice. He met the music publishers secretary and married her, fought with the Crickets, became a solo artist but the action didn’t zing along. But, when Buddy changed glasses to the horn rimmed frames which were his trademark, things began to pick up.
The second act rocked, all coloured lights and action. We were in the Winter Dance Party show in Iowa, the DJ (Matthew Quinn) whipped the audience up and when the acts came on, we were in a frenzy. The Big Bopper (Thomas Mitchells), Ritchie Valens (Jordan Cunningham) and Buddy Holly (Alex Fobbester). It was terrific. Young and not so young were on their feet singing along, clapping in time and one elderly gentleman was in the aisle giving it plenty of welly!
Again, as in so many recent shows at the Opera House, the cast played all the instruments on stage, sang, danced and acted. This was a great example of multi-skilling at it’s best and the cast were tremendous.
Until Saturday so hurry up, get booking.
Buddy. The Buddy Holly Story
Grand Opera House Belfast
Until Saturday 18th February 2017