Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, live theatre's wildly popular rock 'n' roll musical, has exploded 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 kicked off Sierra Rep's 34th season on March 2. BroadwayWorld has a first look at the cast onstage below!
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 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.
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.
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.
MJ Jurgensen plays Norm's wife, Vi Petty, a versatile studio musician who joined in several Holly hits. SRT Company Actor Ty Smith is Buddy's hometown booster and radio host HiPockets and Ashley Flowers is Buddy's young wife, Maria Elena.
Filling out the ensemble are Ashley Townsend, Sarah Sesler, Scott Nelson, Andy Merrill, Kayla Hart and Mike Fiore.
Viets is director and choreographer, and SRT's Mark Seiver is musical director with assistance from Jay David. Joining them are guest scenic designer Rand Enlow, guest costume designer Jose Rivera and lighting designer Christopher Van Tuyl. SRT's Mercy Sharpe is props master, sound is by Ty Smith, and stage manager is Lia Metz.
Buddy plays through Sunday, April 21 at SRT's East Sonora Theatre. Thursday and Friday performances begin at 7, Saturday evening performances are at 8 and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees begin at 2. General admission ranges from $26 to $32 depending on the day of the performance. For performance information or reservations, call SRT's box office at (209) 532-3120, or visit the theater's website at www.sierrarep.org.
Photo Credit: Rich Miller Photography
Ralph Krumins as Buddy Holly
Ralph Krumins as Buddy Holly (center) and cast (Ashley Townsend, Sarah Sesler, MJ Jurgensen, Kayla Hart)
Robert Araujo as Ritchie Valens
Ralph Krumins as Buddy Holly (center), drummer Joaquin David (right) and bassist Skeez Nava (left)
Bassist Skeez Nava and Ralph Krumins as Buddy Holly