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Theater Review: “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story”

“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” plays through July 2, 2017 at the Horton Grand
Photo credit:
Daren Scott

If he’d believed what the “experts” told him, the world would never have had such classics as “Peggy Sue,” “That’ll Be The Day” and “Everyday.”

But Buddy Holly, born in 1936 to a musical family in Texas where country music was king, didn’t listen to naysayers. He had a different kind of beat in his soul – rock and roll – and persisted in writing, producing and performing his own music. 

His influence was big – including such hits as “Rave On,” “Maybe Baby,” “Not Fade Away,” and “Oh Boy!” Holly is also credited with defining a rock band as two guitars, a bass and drums. 

And he did all this by the time he was 22, when his life was tragically cut short in a plane crash that also killed Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.

Now Intrepid Theatre and New Village Arts are co-producing “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.” It will be at the Horton Grand through July 2, moving to New Village Arts in Carlsbad from July 13-Aug. 27.

“Buddy” shows us some of the flak he got – first from local DJ Hipockets Duncan (Manny Fernandes), who didn’t want to play his music but got him a contract with Decca, where he got more flak.

But rock and roll would not be denied.

Soon a newspaper called it “a communicable disease.” It quickly became an epidemic, and the rest is history.

But “Buddy” won’t burden you with a lot of facts; it will beguile you with music.

Skinny, nerdy Buddy with the big horn-rims is played wonderfully by Paul Swensen Eddy, aided by his buddies in music Joe (Noah Zuniga-Williams) on bass and Jerry (Jarrod Alexander) on drums. Watch for Zuniga-Williams’ crazy tricks on the bass.

One particularly amusing scene takes place in Harlem’s Apollo Theater, where local performer Marlena Madison (Eboni Muse, with a huge, beautiful voice) and her friends are amused at Buddy’s chutzpah – really, a group of honkies at the Apollo? 

But they, too, find his music irresistible.

One reason is that Holly’s music is danceable. It’s nearly impossible not to want to get up and cut a rug when you hear these songs.

Bravo to Christy Yael-Cox, music director Tony Houck and this terrific cast for this rockin’ blast from the past. 

Kudos to the design team as well, especially Jeannie Reith for wonderful costumes. Christopher Scott Murillo’s set design is simple and functional, and keeps the attention where it needs to be.

Lighting and sound are ably handled by Alex Crocker-Lakness and Chad Goss.

“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” is a rockin’ blast from the past. Don’t miss it.

The details

“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” plays through July 2, 2017 at the Horton Grand, 444 Fourth Avenue, downtown, and from July 13 to August 22, 2017 at New Village Arts in Carlsbad.

Intrepid Theatre times: Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 4 and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets: (760) 433-3245 or intrepidtheatre.org