Buddy Holly died on February 3, 1959, in an airplane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa along with Ritchie Valens and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.
Tacoma Musical Playhouse (TMP) just opened their rendition of the play, The Buddy Holly Story. It is a musical bursting with the songs many of us grew up with during the 1950s age of Rock N’ Roll.
While I am not a theatrical critic, last Sunday, as I sat in the front row watching the musical, I was the only “patron of the arts”, heh, heh, who took written notes throughout the duration of the performance.
The theater was packed with an enthusiastic audience. Jubilant comes to mind.
Now I feel compelled to use a word I may overuse in my writing. The word is amazing. If I overuse the word, it is because I only have an 84-word vocabulary.
Yes, TMP’s Buddy is amazing for a number of reasons.
AMAZING #1: TMP’s cast, crew, and management discovered, just before opening night on Friday, February 3, 2017, that February 3 was precisely the 58th anniversary of Buddy’s death.
Call it amazing. Call it eerie. Call it psychic. All I can tell you is that it happened, and it was not planned.
AMAZING #2: Not once did I have that familiar guy feeling most guys get when they take a gal to a play, especially a musical.
Guys, you know what I am talking about. “How can it be that it has only been 10 minutes since the play started? Why did I say, ‘Yes’? How much longer do we have to sit here before intermission? Should I fake a myocardial infarction during the intermission to facilitate my escape? Is it possible I might enjoy slamming the garage door on my head more than attending a theatrical performance?”
Gals, you know what I am talking about. Your guy starts out yawning followed by squirming in his seat. He falls asleep and then snores so loudly you can’t hear the actors. The snoring stops only after the guy falls out of his seat wedging his head between the two people sitting in front of him.
Amazing. None of that happened during this play. I did not want the actors to stop doing what they were doing. I felt guilty having more fun than any guy is supposed to have during a play.
AMAZING #3: Before sitting down I asked myself, “How are they going to tell Buddy’s story?” TMP accomplsihed their story telling in an amazing fashion. The story thread takes us through Buddy forming his band (The Crickets), his experience working inside the music industry, falling in love, being cheated by his music producer and the plane crash. The plane crash was depicted in a breathtakingly amazing fashion. I will not tell you how because I do not want to spoil it for you.
AMAZING #4: TMP included some laugh out loud verbal and physical humor in their production.
AMAZING #5: The history behind the song title, Peggy Sue, was, shall I say, amazing.
AMAZING #6: Hipockets Dunton, the radio announcer, and Buddy Holly are played by father and son, George McClure and Matt McClure respectively.
AMAZING #7: All the actors on stage were obviously having so much fun. After the final bows, the audience was treated to meeting the actors in a receiving line.
AMAZING #8: Buddy Holly wanted to play his music his way, because “that is what the kids in his audiences wanted to hear.” Buddy led the way for Rock N’ Roll by overcoming serious music industry pressure to conform to what the music moguls thought he should be doing in terms of genre, style and sound.
AMAZING #9: Buddy was color blind. Elvis made black music more acceptable to white audiences. On August 16 – 22, 1957, Buddy and the Crickets became the first white band to play in the black historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, Based on Buddy’s sound, the promoter assumed that Buddy and the Crickets were black when he booked them into the Apollo. Buddy did not care about color. He cared about music.
Because Buddy was color blind, he enjoyed the freedom to be able to fall in love and marry Maria Elena Santiago who was of Puerto Rican descent.
Buddy’s color blindness made the world a better place.
AMAZING #10: Originally it was planned that Buddy, Ritchie, and the Big Bopper were to take the tour bus to Morehead, Iowa 205 miles southwest, which would run about 2 1/2 hours.. At the last minute, they made arrangements to use a private chartered plane. There was some negotiating, begging and coin flipping before it was decided who would get to fly in the plane and who would be stuck riding in the drafty bus. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. This time a Rock N’ Roll star won the coin toss but still lost the bet.
I could go on, but if you have no interest in Buddy Holly, then 10 Amazings are more than enough. If you are interested in Buddy Holly, then you need to see this production yourself. You will add your own amazings.
Bonus Amazing #11: The casting was superb. The photo below shows two guys, who possess an uncanny, you might say amazing, resemblance to Buddy Holly and Joe Boyle.
Purchase Tickets – The Buddy Holly Story through February 26, 2017.
Tacoma Musical Playhouse
7116 Sixth Avenue
Tacoma, Washington 98406
If you run into the red headed thespian, Kat Dollarhide, at the concession stand or working the door, tell her Joe Boyle from The Suburban Times sent you.