– Guest blogger, Jack Benway contributes the following review of Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story presented by the Phoenix Theater League at the Orpheum Theater March 2015.
The Jukebox Musical Theater genre is growing on me, if for no other
reason than its combination of absurdity and audacity.
The genre takes somebody else’s already popular and well-known musical
body of work, weaves an (often contrived or minimal) narrative around
it, adds some choreography, costuming, and stage work, and delivers it
as a theatrical production.
Considering that a good rock-and-roll live show already includes
choreography, costuming, and stagework, it becomes clear that a Jukebox
Musical is really just extremely clever marketing to significantly
increase the ticket price of a cover band or retrospective musical
review. Bully for them — bring on the clever marketing!
No rock band ever won a Tony Award for their live tour, but repackage
the songs of that same rock band, performed by others, as musical
theatre, and a trophy will be awarded in short order.
Buddy (the Buddy Holly Story) delivered the best that the Jukebox
Musical genre can offer.
Its narrative, describing Buddy Holly’s rocket ride to stardom and
tragic abrupt demise, contributed nicely to the mostly musical production.
The clever mechanism of radio show snippets for timeline advancement
made for rapid progression with minimal need for set changes or chorus
Its biggest miss was the use of chorus girls singing ad jingles during
the first act, which seemed out of place and a bit contrived for the
production as a whole — a good idea that wasn’t executed or implemented
The impersonator (er, actor) playing Buddy Holly was fantastic, as were
those playing the lesser roles of The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, and the
Crickets. The music was wonderful. Costumes were appropriate but not
Buddy made me wish I could have seen Buddy Holly perform live, or at
least, take in a good Buddy Holly cover band.