28 July – 2 August 2014
Reviewed by Sallie Greenhalgh
We had a toe tapping fantastic night of music when we went to see Buddy at the New Theatre in Oxford. We arrived by train which made the whole experience less stressful as we didn’t have to deal with parking a car and the theatre is only a short walk from the station with many restaurants and bars in the vicinity. The theatre itself is a lovely venue and the staff were polite, helpful and attentive to our every need. That said I was disappointed to have the first 5 minutes of the show continually interrupted by late arrivals being shown to their seats in front of us.
There are two actors who are playing Buddy Holly on this tour and for our performance Roger Rowley took the lead role. The show was slow to start for me – maybe this was indicative of Buddy Holly’s career but really, until the show arrived in Clovis, New Mexico where Holly got his first recording contract where he was encouraged to play Rock & Roll, the show did not capture my attention. However from this point on I was drawn into the performance more and more and by the interval was keen to get back to my seat for the second half.
The show cleverly used the audience in the theatre as the audience in the radio shows and concerts where Holly was supposed to be performing in the show. This drew the audience into the performance more and made you feel like you were part of the experience. Lydia Fraser who was on stage at the Apollo before Holly stole the show for me – her rendition of Shout was stunning. In general though, I felt that the acting was less adept than the music and almost seemed to be an afterthought to try and link the songs together.
As musicians the performers were second to none with all music live on stage. By the final scene in Clear Lake, Iowa, the night before Buddy Holly was tragically killed in a plane crash, the whole audience were clapping and singing along to familiar songs. Holly’s death was not dwelt on but was dealt with sensitively and I felt handled very well. I had not appreciated the number of songs that Holly had recorded in his very short career but I knew the vast majority even though we were some of the youngest in the audience! Having seen the whole show I left the theatre singing along to the songs and having felt more like I had gone to a rock and roll concert than a ‘musical’. It was a good night out though and I would recommend it if you enjoy music from this era.
Tickets cost from £12.90 to £32.40 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story is at the New Theatre Oxford until 2 August 2014. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3020.
New Theatre Oxford, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AG | 0844 871 3020