Buddy Holly’s Rise to Stardom Vibrantly Revived at History Theatre and Extended Through Jan. 4

By John Townsend December 23, 2014

Categories: Arts & Culture, Our Scene

Nick Freeman as Buddy Holly at Clear Lake’s Surf Ballroom. Photo by Scott Pakudaitis

Nick Freeman as Buddy Holly at Clear Lake’s Surf Ballroom.
Photo by Scott Pakudaitis

The History Theatre’s charming revival of Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story captures the look and zeitgeist of the late 1950s when rock ‘n’ roll was coming into its own. Alan Janes’s musical showcases Holly tunes recorded between 1956 and 1959 when he died in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa.

Nicholas Freeman reprises the title role with wonderful vibrancy and detail to Holly’s look, carriage, and voice. He conveys the changes in Holly’s life as he goes from hometown Lubbock, Texas to record at the Nor Va Jak studio in Clovis, New Mexico. And from then onto the fast-paced recording industry in New York where a stint at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre makes for hilarious and heartwarming interracial humor. Holly’s fateful trip to Iowa is bittersweet.

The rock n’ roll spirit lives through Jan Puffer’s choreography and Gary Rue’s music direction with input from Andrew Fleser. Blake Foster, Ryan Janssen, and Zach Spicer crackle and pop as Holly’s band, The Crickets. The effect this has on the audience is uplifting and dynamic.

Director Ron Peluso elicits substantive performances in his briskly paced staging. Andrea San Miguel gives a touching portrayal as Holly’s wife, Maria Elena. Charles Fraser is terrific as Holly’s Clovis manager, Norman Petty. Justin Hooper’s set design suits the action perfectly but he needs to check the spelling of the Clovis studio’s name. Lynn Farrington’s costumes colorfully embody the small Midwestern town and cowboy images of the time.

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story
Through Jan. 4
History Theatre, 30 E. 10th St., St. Paul
(651) 292-4323
www.historytheatre.com

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