Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

April 18, 2023

REVIEW: The Majestic, "Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story"

Majestic Theater, West Springfield, MA
Through May 28, 2023
by Shera Cohen

Photo by Kait Rankin
Who said, "You can't get enough of a good thing"? The answer doesn't matter. The question is only a preface to this review of "Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story" at the Majestic Theatre. "Buddy" and I are old friends, having seen the musical 25-years ago when the Majestic opened its doors for the first time to the beat of 50's rock 'n roll songs of Buddy Holly & The Crickets. You could say that I am a "Buddy" maven, because I've seen, moved my feet, sang along, and clapped to this musical at least six times.

The Majestic is wise to close out their 25th season with a winning play, production, with strong audience appeal. My generation is that of Buddy and rock & roll. Do I remember the lyrics of Taylor Swift's most recent song? No? How about the lyrics of "That'll Be the Day," "Rave On," and "True Love Ways"? Yes. I am not unique. Nostalgia can easily spawn exact memories.

The linear story is Buddy Holly's life, with dialog interspersed between music numbers, from deep Texas twang to southern country to variations of gospel. These genres soon lead to rock 'n roll dance, concert gig tours, radio records spinning, ultimately #1 on the charts and fame.

Buddy and the Crickets back-up band perform throughout most of the show, as well as the show within the show. Dan Whelton, whose credits include Equity and community theatre lead roles, plays Buddy. Whelton can't be faulted for the charm and naivite of his character, and he has a clear-enough, melodic voice. However, it is difficult to assess the actor's skills, because for well-over half the production, the band is so loud that Whelton is nearly inaudible. 

Band members (The Crickets) include Doug Wallace, Tommy Allsup, Joe B. Mauldin, and Don Rovero; are each a fine musician in their own right. The enthusiasm of young drummer, Jacob Nichols, is contagious; he's obviously having more fun than anyone onstage, a shining star. A suggestion for future performances is that Whelton, Cricket actors, and the sound designer get together soon in order to perfect the clarity of lyrics and instruments.

The Sunday matinee audience was ecstatic, giving three standing ovations.