REVIEW: The Buddy Holly Story at The Palace Theatre, Manchester

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AMERICAN Rock ‘n’ Roll sensation Buddy Holly arrives in Manchester nearly 60 years after his tragic death in a plane crash on “The day the music died.”

The musical has been enchanting and delighting audiences since its initial opening night in 1989 and now it arrives in Manchester’s famous Palace Theatre.

“It’s not that I want to be rich. I just want the world to remember the name Buddy Holly”, proclaimed a young Buddy Holly early into the performance, little did he know just how many would still remember, 58 years later.

Centred around the life and whirlwind rise to prominence of American rock and roll pioneer Buddy Holly, the musical, featuring most of Holly’s back catalogue will do a great deal for fans of his music, although anybody unfamiliar with his work can certainly find things to enjoy.

The musical opens with Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Joe Mauldin and Jerry Allison struggling in Small-Town, Lubbock Texas, performing country music, with big dreams of chasing their Rock & Roll dreams.

Buddy, played here by 23-year-old Alex Forrester forges his own path in the music industry, leaving Lubbock Texas and Country music behind for his own, trail-blazing career, setting the scene for many who followed like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Alex Forrester as Buddy Holly puts in a strong performance, the young performer nails many of the music icons mannerisms and his vocals match with Holly’s extremely well, Forrester’s professional job makes it incredibly easy for any audience members who remember Holly in his prime to get a good rush of nostalgia.

As the show progresses and the group garner more success and adulation, the chemistry between Holly and The Crickets (played by Joe Butcher and Josh Haberfield) forms one of the platforms the musical relies on, Fobbester, Butcher & Haberfield believably portrayed three great friends, playing the music they love.

Without this clear chemistry, the show would struggle with its source material much more, but the young cast perfectly balances young men having the time of their lives at their best, with friends going their separate ways at its worst.

Another integral aspect of the show is the live performances, the cast bring their all to capture the magic of Holly’s music, performing his greatest hits with aplomb and character, having fun with the source material, which translated well to the audience.

Particular standouts are performances of “Peggy Sue”, “La Bamba” and “Johnny. B Goode”.

Generally, Buddy Holly – The Buddy Holly Story acts as an enjoyable romp into what the 1950’s American music scene was like, with a great cast and even better music.

However, the limitations of the Jukebox musical format lead to the music taking prominence over the Buddy Holly story.

Anybody not a fan of Holly’s music may find the barrage of music dull at times, much preferring the narrative driven style of a conventional musical experience.

For the fans however, it promises to take audiences back to a simpler time, when you only needed the music of Buddy Holly and his Crickets to have a good time and you’ll be singing along in no time.

For the non-fans, it does have enough to be enjoyable but lacks some of the charm and love that it may have for the ardent fans in the audience.

Buddy Holly – The Buddy Holly Story is at The Palace Theatre from the 30th May to the 3rd June, you can get tickets here.

70%
70%
Fun!
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