“Our Buddy production was a smashing success and an outstanding finale to our season. We had standing ovations every show, people up dancing through the last songs and some patrons returning four times to relive the memories. Young and old connected with the music and the story. We had so many great memories and stories that were shared with us throughout the four-week run. What a great way to show that theatre makes the world a better place”
— Deb Harvey, Executive Director, The Grand Theatre, London, Ontario
Zachary Stevenson plays Buddy
The Grand Theatre cast of Buddy
“It was one of the greatest tragedies in rock ‘n roll history, but it was a fun-filled, meteoric ride getting there… The Grand production of the popular show lives up to its billing as a play with music, the cast of 13 actor/musician/singers delivering strong performances that tell the story with clarity and an awful lot of fun.
“Zachary Stevenson is inspiring in the lead role of the heavily bespectacled Buddy Holly, his competent guitar work, physicality and characterizations of the legend providing strong support to vocals that are outstanding… Stevenson is so comfortable, so focused and so believable as Holly, lovers of rock ’n roll, music history or Buddy Holly should run to buy tickets. He’s that good.
Kevin Aichele as the Big Bopper
(L-R) Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane, Dianne Oliveira, and Andrea Ferrett in the Grand Theatre’s production of Buddy
“Although many in the supporting cast have only a few years of stage experience, they give great performances that capture the excitement, fun and youthful energy of the 1950s, especially former Londoner Oscar Moreno, a High School Project alumni, who plays Ritchie Valens.
“Moreno’s big vocals, dancing and larger-than-life personality are a perfect fit for this fast-paced musical ride. Ditto for Londoner Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane, who plays Apollo Theatre performer Marlena Madison, and delivers a crowd-pleasing, energetic and memorable rendition of ‘Shout’, accompanied by Michael Clarke (playing Tyrone Jones) on saxophone.
Oscar Moreno plays Ritchie Valens
Michael Clarke and Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane at the Apollo
“Those are just two of the moments that delighted the audience. There were many others, not the least of which was Holly cuddling on a couch with his wife, Maria Elena (Dianne Oliveira), playing “a song I’ve been working (that) I wrote for you” on acoustic guitar, a note-for-note perfect ‘True Love Ways’.
“A third Londoner, Al Braatz, stars as Cricket bass player Joe B. Mauldin, giving a fun, credible performance (not to mention his uncanny physical similarities). Also providing London connections is Pearson School for the Arts and Beal secondary school grad Andrea Ferrett, as Mary Lou Sokoloff, who sings ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ in the production.
“This is a show where the musical director, Bob Foster (who plays guitar and keyboards), is as deserving of a standing ovation as anyone in the cast, if only for the arrangement of ‘Raining in My Heart’.
“Other performances that need to be acknowledged are Rob Tor as Lubbock DJ Hipockets Duncan, Kevin Aichele as Big Bopper Matthew Campbell as record producer Norm Petty and musician/actor Alicia Toner as Vi Petty.
“The show includes all the Holly hits – ‘That’ll Be The Day’, ‘Peggy Sue’, ‘Everyday’, ‘Oh Boy’, ‘Not Fade Away’, ‘Rave On’, ‘True Love Ways’ and ‘Maybe Baby’ – and a few others to enjoy, including Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’.
“This is director Susan Ferley’s last show as artistic director (she’s directing High School Project’s Les Miserables in September before heading to England to study at the prestigious Royal Central School of Speech & Drama) and the audience couldn’t ask for a better end to the season, or her reign.
“The show is perfectly paced, giving the audience a chance to absorb all the nuances this show was written to reveal, the naivety of the young musicians, the sleazy record producers and companies who prey on them, the pressures and conflicts musicians faced and the influence Holly had on the musical landscape. You can hear The Beatles, The Stones and others in Holly’s music.
“Buddy – The Story of Buddy Holly is appropriate for all ages, a must-see show that will not disappoint.”
— Joe Belanger, The London Free Press ****
Zachary Stevenson and Dianne Oliveira
Bob Foster, Kevin Aichele, Andrea Ferrett, Matthew Campbell, Alicia Toner, and Isaac Bell as the Hayriders
Photos by Claus Andersen
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