The show follows Buddy's life from his early days in Lubbock, Texas, breaking out of the country-western genre and creating something entirely new, through a failed recording contract, his unprecedented string of hit songs, a whirlwind romance and marriage, and finally, to that fateful last concert in Clear Lake, Iowa. Along the way we hear many of his best hits, along with other songs of the era, including Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper's biggest hits, "La Bamba" and "Chantilly Lace," respectively. Despite the fun music, there's a slight sense of foreboding as the audience knows how the story ends, even as Buddy and friends move towards it unaware of their fate. But we're not down for long, a brief moment of silence with a single spotlight illuminating a frozen Buddy in his final concert, and we're back to the party, with several songs continuing through and after the curtain call to leave the audience in a good mood.
|Nicholas Freeman as Buddy, and the ensemble|
Refreshingly for a musical, the actors are not miked, but use retro style microphones for the big numbers. This also allows for a few lovely unplugged moments, including Buddy singing to his new wife. The stage is set up to look like a '50s stage, and the period costumes include poodle skirts, crinolines, and bow ties galore (sound by C. Andrew Mayer, set by Justin Hooper, and costumes by Lynn Farrington).
If you remember where you were on "the day the music died" and long to reminisce about the days before that loss of innocence, you'll want to catch this show before it closes on December 21 (or later, I hear it's going to be extended). If you only know of it from the song (or, for you other children of the '80s, the 1987 movie La Bamba about Ritchie Valens), this is a chance to learn a little bit more about the legend and imagine what it was like to be a bobby soxer. Either way - a good time was had by all.