Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story

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The Buddy Holly Story
Written by Alan Janes
MusicBuddy Holly and others
LyricsBuddy Holly and others
Productions1989-2008 West End
1990–1991 Broadway
1991–2016 UK Tours
1991–2016 US National Tours
1991–1994 Australia
1994–2001 Germany
2007-2008 West End Revival
2009–2010 Australia
2009–2010 Germany

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story a musical in two acts written by Alan Janes, and featuring the music of Buddy Holly, opened at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre on 12 October 1989. An early example of the jukebox musical, Buddy ran in London’s West End for over 12 years, playing 5,140 performances. Janes took over the producing of the show himself in 2004 and Buddy has been on tour in the UK for 17 of the last 24 years, and has played Broadway, 5 U.S. National Tours, Canada, Sweden, South Africa, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Holland, Singapore, Finland, Austria, Denmark and countless other productions around the world leading to the show being named as ‘The World’s Most Successful Rock ‘n’ Roll Musical’. Janes was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Musical, and internationally Buddy has received 29 nominations and awards.


A late-night fan based conversation in a bar of the Montcalm Hotel in London’s West End in 1988, between the theatrical agent Laurie Mansfield, film producer Greg Smith and writer/producer Janes, about the legendary rock ‘n’ roller Buddy Holly, led Janes to develop and write Buddy. A year later, supported by Paul McCartney, who owned the copyright to Buddy Holly’s music, the show had a try out at the Plymouth Theatre Royal before its transfer to London’s Victoria Palace.[1]


Original production

Janes worked with originating director, Rob Bettinson, and originating musical director, Paul Jury, to present the show for a 3-week pre-London engagement in August 1989 at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal with Paul Hipp as Buddy Holly. The first shows were beset by technical problems as 26 actor/musicians played and acted their way through two and a half hours of drama and hi-octane rock ‘n’ roll concert. But regardless of the set crashes and technical mishaps, the audience would not let the cast leave the stage, demanding encore after encore until the cast had run out of songs to play.[2]

West End productions

Buddy transferred to the Victoria Palace Theatre and opened on 12 October 1989. With audiences on their feet every night, structural engineers were called to the theatre to make sure the dress circle could take the weight as the structure bounced with the audience as they danced. Buddy transferred to the Novello theatre completing a total of 12 and a half years and 5,140 performances at the two theatres. In 2007 Janes brought the show back to the West End at the Duchess Theatre, where it played for a further 634 performances making it one of the longest-running musicals in London history.[3] This revival ensured that the 50th Anniversary of Holly's death was celebrated on 3 February with a special performance incorporating several new numbers for that one night. The role of Buddy Holly was equally shared by Dean Elliott and Matthew Wycliffe, who played the role in the 2007 UK touring company.[4] Ritchie Valens was played by Puerto Rican actor Miguel Angel, and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) by actor Lee Ormsby.[5] The 50th Anniversary Tour played concurrently across the UK and starred Oliver Seymour-Marsh and Glen Joseph as Buddy, with Chris Redmond and Dan Graham as the Crickets.[6]

UK national tours

While in the 2nd of its 12-year run in the West End, a second production of Buddy opened in June 1991 at the Plymouth Theatre Royal to embark on a UK wide national tour. Breaking a record of being the first West End production to tour the UK while still on in the West End, a second record was broken with the tours 243 weeks of continuous touring, or 4 years 35 weeks on the road. This included weekly engagements of 12 weeks at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal; 18 weeks at Bournemouth’s Pavilion Theatre; 19 weeks at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre; 15 weeks at Manchester’s Palace Theatre and repeat weeks at the main number one theatres in every major city and town throughout the UK and Ireland. Buddy has now toured the UK for 17 of the past 24 years, with the latest tour starting out from Harlow, Essex in August 2016.[7]

Broadway production/US national tours

After a Toronto try-out and 15 previews, the Broadway production, also starring Hipp, opened on November 4, 1990, at the Shubert Theatre, where it ran for 225 performances. Jill Hennessy played a number of roles, including Holly's wife Maria Elena. The show has toured extensively throughout the U.S.A starting with a 53-week tour in November 1991, and with the most recent 5th tour finishing in March 2016.[8]

International and touring productions

Buddy has been in more than 17 countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, UK and USA. Over 25 million people have seen the show worldwide. Buddy has had 2 major tours in Australia, the 1st tour played Sydney’s Theatre Royal for 36 weeks before continuing throughout Australia for a further 60 weeks. The second Australian tour in 2009 ran for 39 weeks.[9]

In Germany the Stage Theatre in Hamburg was built on land next to the river Elbe specifically for Buddy, where the show played for 7 years between 1994 and 2001. The 2nd major production in Germany was produced by Stage Entertainment in the Colosseum Theater in Essen 2009-2010

The cast of Buddy in Pacific Repertory Theatre's San Francisco production
Other notable US productions
  • The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle, Washington (February – March 2007, starring Billy Joe Huels as Buddy)
  • Arizona Broadway Theatre, Peoria, Arizona (March 2013, starring Jared Mancuso as Buddy)
  • Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, Arvada, Colorado (July – August 2008, starring Bennett Dunn as Buddy)
  • Arts Club Theatre, Vancouver, British Columbia (May – July 2010. This record-breaking run featured an incredible 61 sold-out performances at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Remounted July – August 2012. Zachary Stevenson played the lead in both productions)
  • Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope, Pennsylvania (June – July 2016, starring John Dewey in the lead)
  • Casa Mañana, Fort Worth, Texas (May – June 2015. Andy Christopher starred as Buddy)
  • Charlottetown Festival, Confederation Centre of the Arts, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (June – July 2010 / September – October 2011. Jeff Giles starred as Buddy in both runs)
  • Chemainus Theatre Festival, Chemainus (Vancouver Island), British Columbia (February – April 2013 / February – March 2014. Zachary Stevenson in the lead)
  • Cypress Woods theatre company, Cypress, Texas (September 15th - 17th 2017, Samuel Hacket starred as Buddy )
  • Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois (May – July 2008, Justin Berkobien starred as Buddy)
  • Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place – Chicago, Illinois (September – November 2008, Justin Berkobien starred as Buddy)
  • Eldorado Showroom (produced by Boebe Productions), Reno, Nevada (January – April 2011. Todd Meredith starred as Buddy)
  • Flat Rock Playhouse, Flat Rock, North Carolina (October 2011. Ben Hope starred as Buddy)
  • Fulton Theatre, Lancaster, Pennsylvania (co-production with Maine State Music Theatre – April – May 2014, Andy Christopher starred as Buddy)
  • Gateway Playhouse, Bellport, New York (August – September 2013, starring Kurt Jenkins as Buddy)
  • Globe Theatre, Regina, Saskatchewan (May – July 2012. Sef Wood starred as Buddy.
  • The Grand Theatre, London, Ontario (April – May 2016. Zachary Stevenson in the lead)
  • History Theatre, St. Paul, Minnesota (October – November 2009 / April – May 2011 / November 2014 – January 2015 / November 2015 – January 2016. Nicholas Freeman starred as Buddy on each occasion)
  • Laguna Playhouse, Laguna Beach, California (June – July 2014. Starring Todd Meredith as Buddy)
  • La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (produced by McCoy Rigby Entertainment), La Mirada, California (April – May 2010. Brandon Albright starred as Buddy Holly)
  • Lyric Theatre, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (August 2010. Ben Hope starred as Buddy)
  • Maine State Music Theatre, Brunswick, Maine (co-production with Fulton Theatre – June 2014. Andy Christopher starred as Buddy)
  • The Muny, St. Louis, Missouri (July 2015. America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre. Andy Christopher starred as Buddy)
  • New Theatre, Overland Park, Kansas (June – August 2010. Bennett Dunn starred as Buddy / June – August 2013. Zachary Stevenson in the lead)
  • North Carolina Theatre (Memorial Auditorium), Raleigh, North Carolina (July 2015. James Barry played the lead)
  • Ogunquit Playhouse, Ogunquit, Maine (September – October 2012. Starring Kurt Jenkins in the lead, Buddy brought Ogunquit Playhouse’s 80th Anniversary season to a close, becoming one of the highest-grossing musicals in the Playhouse’s history, and returned by popular demand in October 2013)
  • Rainbow Stage, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (Canada’s largest and longest-running outdoor theatre – June 2013. Jeff Giles starred as Buddy)
  • Riverside Theatre, Vero Beach, Florida (April – May 2011. Matthew Gray starred as Buddy)
  • Theatre Aquarius, Hamilton, Ontario (April – May 2011. Starring Hamilton native Jeff Giles, the show broke the box-office record to become the highest-grossing, best-attended Theatre Aquarius production as that point)
  • Theatre By The Sea, Wakefield, Rhode Island (June 2016. A record-breaking run starring Michael Siktberg in the lead)
  • Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1999 / May – July 2012. Christopher Sutton starred as Buddy Holly on both occasions)
  • Welk Resort San Diego, Escondido, California (July – September 2007)




Performance at the White House for President Bush
Act I

The action takes place in Lubbock, Texas; Clovis, New Mexico; New York City and Clear Lake, Iowa; between January 1956 and February 1959.

With the support of local Lubbock Texas radio DJ, Hipockets Duncan, Buddy and his two friends form a Country & Western band – Buddy Holly & the Crickets – and begin to carve out a career in music. After a difficult start at Decca Records in Nashville, they sign a contract with up-and-coming, innovative record producer Norman Petty who is based in Clovis, New Mexico. Within hours, Buddy Holly & the Crickets start to churn out hits from the recording studio built in Norman’s backyard, among them "That'll Be The Day", which will rocket up the charts to number one in a matter of weeks. Buddy Holly & the Crickets are suddenly the hottest act in the country and out on national tour.

Buddy and his band go to New York where they perform at the Apollo Theater making history as the first white band to perform there.

Act II

While recording in New York, Buddy proposes to Maria Elena Santiago, the Puerto Rican receptionist of his music publisher after a courtship of all of five hours. Newly married and ambitious, he shifts focus to New York and a rift develops between him and the Crickets. After a declaration of home truths during a recording session, the band split and Buddy unexpectedly finds himself having to pursue a solo career.

Buddy joins The Winter Dance Party of 1959, a bus tour through the Midwest quenching the teenage thirst for the "new music called Rock 'n' Roll" The tour is hard work, the weather conditions appalling and the performers are alternating between sleeping in the luggage racks and dropping into hospital to be treated for frostbite.

The story ends on February 3, 1959, after a rocking concert with the "Big Bopper" J.P. Richardson and Ritchie Valens at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Buddy makes the fateful decision to break his promise to his pregnant wife not to fly, as he and the other two headliners board a small plane and take off into the night destined for their next show. During a snow storm, in the dead of night, the plane crashes and spares no survivors.


Act 1
  • Grand Bowl, Lubbock, Texas
  • A Lubbock diner
  • Decca Recording Studios, Nashville
  • KDAV Radio Studio, Lubbock
  • NorVaJak Studios, Clovis, New Mexico
  • Apollo Theatre, Harlem, New York
Act 2
  • Music Publisher’s Office, New York
  • Central Park, New York
  • NorVaJak Studios, Clovis
  • Buddy & Maria Elena’s Apartment, New York
  • Backstage Surf Ballroom, Clear Lake, Iowa
  • Clear Lake Concert

Song list[edit]

Cast list[edit]

Original West End cast
  • Buddy Holly - Paul Hipp
  • The Big Bopper - Gareth Marks
  • Ritchie Valens - Enzo Squillino Jnr
  • 4th Cricket - Billy Geraghty
  • Joe B. Mauldin - David Howarth
  • Jerry Allison - David Bardsley
  • Hipockets Duncan - Vincent Marzello
  • Norman Petty - Ron Emslie
  • Maria Elena Santiago - Laurence Bouvard
  • Vi Petty - Lorna Lee
  • Apollo Main Man - Trevor Michael Georges
  • Apollo Singer - Shenton Dixon
  • Session Musician - Graham Brand
  • Belmont - Paul Edwards
  • Maria’s Aunt - Carmen Gomez
  • Dion DiMucci - Adam Henderson
  • Murray Deutch - Douglas LeLand
  • DJ Clear Lake - Bo Light
  • Peggy Sue - Claudia Morris
  • Mary Lou - Megg Nichol
Broadway Cast
  • Buddy Holly - Paul Hipp
  • The Big Bopper - David Mucci
  • Ritchie Valens - Philip Anthony
  • 4th Cricket - Ken Triwush
  • Joe B. Mauldin - Bobby Prochaska
  • Jerry Allison - Russ Jolly
  • Hipockets Duncan - Fred Sanders
  • Norman Petty - Kurt Ziskie
  • Maria Elena Santiago - Jill Hennessy
  • Vi Petty - Jo Lynn Burks
  • Apollo Main Man - Demo Cates
  • Apollo Singer - Jerome Smith Jnr
  • Apollo Singer - Sandra Caldwell
  • Apollo Singer - Denise Matthews
  • DJ at Apollo - Don Stitts
  • Session Musician - Alvin Crawford
  • Belmont - Kevin Fox
  • Maria’s Aunt - Liliane Stilwell
  • Dion DiMucci - Adam Henderson
  • Murray Deutch - Steve Steiner
  • Stage Manager - Peter Mumford
  • Peggy Sue - Melanie Doane
  • Mary Lou - Karen Cole
  • Decca Engineer - Paul McQuillan
  • Ensemble - Tom Nash
  • Ensemble - Louis Tucci
  • Ensemble - James H Wiggins
2016/2017 UK Tour
  • Buddy Holly - Glen Joseph
  • Alt. Buddy Holly - Alex Fobbester
  • The Big Bopper - Thomas Mitchells
  • Richie Valens - Jordan Cunningham
  • Jerry Allison - Josh Haberfield
  • Joe B. Maudlin - Joe Butcher
  • Hipockets Duncan - Matthew Quinn
  • Norman Petty - Alex Tosh
  • Maria Elena - Kerry Low
  • Vi Petty - Celia Cruwys-Finnigan
  • Apollo Performer - Miguel Angel
  • Swing - Tom Sowinski

Joseph Butcher took over the role of Joe B. Mauldin for the 2016/17 tour to high critical acclaim.

Alex Tosh also originated the newly written role of Denzel Jefferson Macauley.

Awards and nominations[edit]

London 1991 Laurence Olivier Awards
  • Best New Musical
  • Best Actor in a Musical
New York 1991 Tony Awards
  • Best Actor in a Musical
New York 1991 Outer Circle Awards
  • Best New Musical
  • Best Performance in a Musical
  • Drama Desk Awards
  • Outstanding Actor in a Musical
  • Theatre World Awards
  • Outstanding Debut Performance
Toronto 1991 Dora Mavor Moore Awards
  • Outstanding Production
  • Outstanding Musical Direction
  • Outstanding Performance
  • Outstanding Set Design
  • Outstanding Costume Design
UK 1992 Manchester Evening News
  • Best Actor in a Musical
  • Best Touring Musical
Washington DC 1993 Helen Hayes Awards
  • Best Touring Production
  • Best Actor in a Touring Production
  • Best Actor in a Resident Musical
Australia 1993 Australian Entertainment 'MO Awards
  • Best Theatrical Production
South Africa 1994 Dalro Awards
  • Best Performance
South Africa 1994 Vita Awards
  • Best Musical Theatre Production
  • Best Performance in a Musical
San Francisco 2004 Bay Area Critics Awards
  • Best Musical
  • Best Ensemble
  • Best Actor in a Musical
London 2008 What’s On Stage Theatregoers’
  • Choice Awards
  • Best Musical Revival
Atlanta 2009 Suzi Bass Awards
  • Lead Actor in a Musical
Edmonton 2010 Sterling Awards
  • Outstanding Production of a Musical
  • Outstanding Musical Director
  • Outstanding Choreography
Vancouver 2010 Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards
  • Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role



External links[edit]