Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, live theatre's wildly popular rock 'n' roll musical, is about to explode onto Sierra Repertory Theatre's East Sonora stage.
Featuring a dozen live musicians and jam-packed with vintage concert scenes, this rock 'n' roll celebration kicks off Sierra Rep's 34th season on March 2. A worldwide smash, the show brings audiences to their feet with more than 20 of Holly's greatest hits, including "Peggy Sue," "That'll be the Day," "Oh Boy," "Rave On," and "Maybe Baby," plus feel-good hits by the young Ritchie Valens, Big Bopper and more.
More than a tribute show, Buddy brings to life the incredible legacy of a skinny, young Texas boy who skyrocketed to world fame with a string of hits that changed the face of popular music. When he and two fellow headliners died in a tragic winter plane crash in 1959, a generation grieved. He was just 22, and now, more than 50 years later, audiences still recognize Holly's irresistible appeal.
"Buddy died so young, all we really have is his music, and it's amazing what he created in just those few short years," said SRT Artistic Director Scott Viets.
Buddy Holly was the first artist of his generation to write and compose his own songs, and his music still sizzles with youth and energy.
The show starts with teenage Buddy and his two pals, The Crickets, performing on-air at a small country music radio station on the outskirts of Lubbock, Texas. When the trio suddenly drops the country twang and makes a surprise switch to one of Buddy's new songs, rock 'n' roll is on its way.
Guitar, bass and drums never sounded so electric. Parents were aghast, kids went crazy and after a bit of a rocky start, hits and fame followed in a frenzy. In just 12 months, Buddy Holly and The Crickets charted seven Top 40 singles, and suddenly, Holly's lanky look and his horn-rimmed glasses were the height of cool.
In Buddy, Director Scott Viets and his cast take audiences along for the short, intense ride, from the small-town recording studios where Buddy and The Crickets honed their sound to their legendary appearance as the first white performers at New York City's Apollo Theater to Buddy's final concert with the Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens and a host of other headliners of the ill-fated Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.
We get a taste of Buddy's impetuous personality when he stubbornly refuses any intrusion on his style, breaks up with his band and instantly proposes to his young wife just a few hours after they meet.
But the show's primary focus is on the music - the show recreates concert scenes with a full complement of trumpets, trombones, guitars, sax, drums, strings and back-up singers.
"We have some fantastic musicians and performers and we're creating a great party atmosphere," Viets said. "At the same time, it's a period piece, set in the mid-century era, and I'm excited to take audiences back to that time."
Kansas native Ralph Krumins is Buddy, a role he has played in several productions around the country - and one he says he was "born to play."
A talented cast of musicians and singers play the other musicians, family and friends who collaborated with Buddy in his short career.
Joining Krumins as The Crickets are accomplished Angels Camp bass player Alex "Skeez" Nava as Joe B. Maudlin and Columbia College freshman Joaquin David as drummer Jerry Allison. Southern California musician Brendan Quirk plays Tommy Allsup, who joined The Crickets as lead guitarist.
SRT newcomer Roberto Araujo plays Ritchie Valens, Michael Misko (SRT's Guys and Dolls) is "Big Bopper" and Keith Beverly is the Apollo concert hall performer who helps Buddy cross a race barrier at the renowned Harlem venue. All three have played these rolls in past Buddy productions around the country. Misko also plays Holly's producer, Norm Petty, who gave him free reign in his Texas recording studio.