Rock and roll at its finest to celebrate the life of Buddy Holly

Even after 30 years on stage, Buddy: The Buddy Holly story is electrifying. Received with rapturous applause at the Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent. 

Buddy Holly story
The Buddy Holly story on stage at the Regent Theatre

In a show that started slow but ended in absolute glory, Buddy: The Buddy Holly story is a wonderful tribute to a life that was taken too soon. An all too poignant a story in light of recent events, but what Buddy Holly did in his short 22 years, many musicians don’t achieve in a lifetime. Hit after hit was belted out on stage moving the audience with a mixture of nostalgia and joy with each one that came. 

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For someone who wasn’t alive when his music was mainstream, I wasn’t sure if I would have the same appreciation for the musical legend, yet there I was humming along and tapping my feet to all of the classics, just as though I was. There were certainly a fair amount of ‘first-timers’ in the audience though, and as the story progressed and the tunes rolled on, so too did the excitement. The atmosphere was fantastic and the evening ended with a full standing ovation for the cast of this production – and a show, which is now 30 years old, and clearly still rocking it. 

This isn’t just a tribute to the music though, it’s also an appreciation of his personality – his candor, likeability and down-to-earth love of entertainment and rock and roll. Buddy was a kid at the end of the day, just 22 years old when he was tragically killed in a plane crash, along with two other musical legends from the era – The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. 

His youthful take on the music industry, his keenness to do it his way and a lust for life shines through in this production. No one will ever forget those distinguishing thick black-rimmed glasses, and if it wasn’t for his determination to stay true to himself, we could have grown up knowing a very different Buddy Holly. 

buddy holly story
Miiguel Angel as Tyrone Jones with Sasha Latoya as Marlena Madison and Cartier Fraser as Chantel Williams

In the leading role is A J Jenks whose performance as Buddy was truly brilliant. His energy on stage kept everything moving, he was clever at mimicking Buddy’s mannerisms, stage presence and quirks. His also sounded like him! The chemistry on stage with the whole cast was a joy to watch.

Performances by Miguel Angel as Ritchie Valens singing La Bamba and Jackie Wilson’s Reet Petite as Tyrone Jones were absolute highlights too. What a voice. 

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Written and produced by Alan Janes and directed by Matt Salisbury, the story is told through various encounters at radio stations, recording studios and shows over from 1957 – 1959 following the release of all time hit: That’ll Be The Day which saw Buddy shoot to fame up until his untimely death nearly two years later. This clever set of scenes enables the audience to get the most out of this jukebox musical as minimal script leaves plenty of time for the songs. But when there were lines, they were funny and got the laughs they deserve. 

Buddy: The Buddy Holly story is on at The Regent, Stoke-on-Trent until Saturday 22 February. Tickets are available from The Regent Theatre Box Office, or by calling 0844 871 7649.

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