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Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story Review

Reviewed by Mark Johnson

Disclaimer: tickets were gifted in return for an honest review.

Buddy: The Buddy Holly story returns to Nottingham's Theatre Royal and 'Oh Boy' it's superb.

AJ Jenks as Buddy Holly. Photo by Hamish Gill F8 Creatives

The hit musical which has run for over 30 years delighting audiences globally and very loosely tells the story of Buddy Holly’s rise to stardom and his tragic death aged just 22. The production splits into two acts with both largely featuring on two concerts with the second act featuring on the final performance at Clear Lake, Iowa.

Whilst the musical isn’t too heavy on plot it allows the music that takes centre stage. It’s hit after hit with great tunes that has the audience dancing away in their seats and by the end up on their feets. It's remarkable that in a career that spanned 18 months that Buddy Holly made such an awesome array of rock and roll hits. The actor-musician company are magnificent and create an authentic sound of the time bringing the music to life with high energy and excellent musicianship. 

AJ Jenks (who alternates the role with Christopher Weeks) took on the role of Buddy with delighting ease. He looks and sounds the part and has a ball as the rock and roll icon. His guitar playing alone is sensational but add in those vocals and charm and it's a fabulous all round leading performance. 

Joe Butcher as Joe B. Maudlin, Josh Haberfield as Jerry Allison and Christopher Weeks as Niki Sullivan make a band that could easily rival the real thing. Creating that authentic rock and round sound which thrills and delights as it's played live. I sensed a lot of nostalgia for members of the audience who were clapping and bopping away. 

Christopher Chandler and Miguel Angel. Photo by Hamish Gill F8 Creatives

Christopher Chandler brings larger-than-life energy to The Big Bopper and gives a great solo performance of 'Chantilly Lace' interacting well with the audience. Miguel Angel continues his long association with the show as Tyrone Jones and Ritchie Valens and he bounces around like a released coiled spring, he has bundles of energy and sings 'Reet Petite' and 'La Bamba' with a beaming smile that is delightful to watch.

Thomas Mitchells is great fun as a variety of characters including Hipockets Duncan, Mitchells serve as a narrator to the piece and relishes some fantastic audience interaction. Laura-Dene Perryman as Chantel Williams and Samuelle Durojaiye as Marlena Madison provide sizzling vocals in the Apollo concert sequence whilst Stephanie Cremona showcases amazing skill on both saxophone and keys. I'd have loved to have seen a little bit more of Daniella Agredo Piper as Buddy's wife Elena Maria

It's not hard to see why the show has endured and had lasting popularity, the key is the music and the show is a great celebration of an icon of music. Whilst lacking in any real story Buddy continues to 'Rave On' some 60 + years after his tragic death. A rock and roll smash hit.

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story plays at Nottingham's Theatre Royal until Saturday 29th July with tickets available from The tour continues thereafter with tickets from

Joe Butcher, AJ Jenks and Josh Haberfield. Photo by Hamish Gill F8 Creatives

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