Holly is not just for Christmas!

Review by David Munro

Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story On Tour

WHILE the spectre of Christmas looms large, together with the usual trappings of mistletoe and holly, do not despair, as there is another Holly - namely Buddy - who is on tour and, if you are lucky, may bedeck your local hall (or theatre) for the festive season and one hopes for the next year as well.

It is not often that one can honestly say that the tour surpasses the West End for class and performance. I did not see Buddy at The Strand but I did (several times) at the Victoria Palace and thought it lacklustre in performance, direction and settings.

As you can imagine I viewed the prospect of seeing it on tour with very little enthusiasm. How wrong I was!

The production I saw the other night at Wimbledon Theatre was stylish, well directed and performed by an able cast, headed by a brilliant Gus Macgregor in the title role (at least I think that was who it was, as the programme, very unhelpfully, indicates that on some performances an LJ Urbani also plays the role and no one in the theatre was sure who it was when I saw it. As there was no announcement, I am assuming therefore it was Gus - if not LJ, it's all yours!).

Buddy is a thankless role in many respects, as it is merely a peg on which to hang the musical numbers. None the less, Mr Macgregor's portrayal gives one a real perspective of the talented, yet tormented, young Texan trying to have his voice heard in an uncaring recording milieu.

His singing and cavorting in the musical numbers are both energetic and endearing, giving the impression of real enjoyment, as well as underscoring the talent of the artist he was impersonating. No mean feat.

He may have been helped, and by this I do not mean to detract from his first-rate performance, by a revised and cut book, which tightened up the action and emphasised the songs, which, after all, is all that Buddy is about.

Should one perhaps give credit for this to Paul Mills, whose unobtrusive direction kept the show moving with a pace echoed by the verve of the musical staging for which he was presumably also responsible, as no one else gets the credit for it.

I am not a rock and roll fan. My musical tastes are more middle of the road, but this production had me metaphorically dancing in the aisles. To paraphrase one of the numbers - Oh Buddy you're good!

Buddy by Alan Janes, Directed by Paul Mills, Musical Director Steve Gibb, Designer Andy Walmsley, WITH: Gus Macgregor - L. J. Urbani - Jaymz Denning - Ricky Rojas -Holly Ashton - Rebecca Bainbridge - John Bannister - Emma Burns -Herbie Dickensen - Tony Feeny - James Hadden - Serena Giacomini - Kim Joyce - Graham Lapin - Michael Lloyd - Robert Lockwood - Tim Parker - Andrew Mckay -Denise Pitter -Claire Storey - Chris

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ELATED LINKS: Click here for the Wimbledon Theatre website...
Click here for the official Buddy! website...