Monday, July 18, 2011

“Buddy Rocks The Point”

A CURRENT REVIEW by Jacquie Bovée

Pick up your phone, call 367-5121 and make reservations to see “The Buddy Holly Story,” now playing at the Point Outdoor Theatre. The classy, fun-filled production is a must-see ticket, and the way the packed-solid house was jumping last Saturday night . . . it’s mighty lucky the Point Outdoor Theatre’s flooring is concrete.

With a book by Alan Janes and music and lyrics by Buddy Holly, the storyline showcases the last three years of the Texas boy’s life. Even without Janes’ well written book, the dynamite musical performances are well worth the price of the ticket. To be specific . . . the show’s terrific!

“The Buddy Holly Story’s” London opening in 1989 ran for over 12 years for a total of 5000 performances, making it one of the longest-running musicals in London history. Paul McCartney (who owned the copyrights to Holly’s music) objected to the inaccuracy of the 1978 movie and contributed greatly to the show’s U.K. success. Humm, Crickets . . . Beatles?

Much of the credit to the smashing production at T
he Point goes to Chris Huber’s sensational portrayal of Buddy Holly, and Adrian Aguilar and Mark Beushausen’s brief, but fabulous, renditions of Ritchie Valens and “Big Booper” Richardson. Greig Bitkower, who also turns in some dynamite guitar playing as the fourth Cricket, has done a superb job as musical director. Listening to Huber, one also appreciates the outstanding work Lynda Ables contributed as his vocal coach.

Holly’s short but accelerated raise began in Lubbock, Texas in 1956 were he insisted on playing his unique rock style on the local country western radio station. Holly and his pals, drummer Jerry Allison (Michael Martin) and Joe B. Mauldin (Brad Shearhart) on bass, moved on to Tennessee.

It was in New Mexico, with producer Norman Petty (exceptionally well played by Luke Cummings) and his keyboard-tickling wife Vi (hilarious played by Karen Billingsley), that Holly & the Crickets recorded their first hit, “That’ll Be the Day.”

As Act one ends, the group ends up booked into New York’s Harlem hot spot, the Apollo Theatre. The MC (Naomi Exum) and singer Frankie Lyman’s (Ruben Exum) scepticism quickly disappears when the “white” guys rock n’ roll.

Act two deals with Holly’s marriage to Maria Elena (superbly portrayed by talented Emily Houghton), the break up with the Crickets and Holly’s final appearance at the 1959 Winter Dance Party in Clear Lake, Iowa, with Ritchie Valens and Big Booper. The show ends, just before they board the small plane during a blizzard, with Holly, Ritchie’s “La Bamba” and Booper’s “Chantilly Lace” bringing down the house.

HCAF’s Executive Director, David Cockrell, does a phenomenal job of casting, designing and directing the musical. Cockerell’s work plus technical direction by Bobby Dale Sands, lighting design by Lorenzo Nichols, sound design by Dana Rochelle Paul, scenic design by Johna Sewell, choreography by Jessica Roberts and costume design by Ellen Bithkower make for one hell of a show.
James Morris as Hipockets Duncan, Trevor Stewart as Moondust DJ & Clear Lake MC, Lance Billingsley as Murray Deutch round out the talented cast.

Another winner is Krista Turner, appearing as Mary Lou Sokolof, who belts out a incredible “Star Spangled Banner.” And, if one listens very carefully, they may even hear the Synth on Bitkower’s guitar softly playing a sweet tenor sax.

See you at the Theatre!


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