Marriott keeps the music alive

Marriott Theatre's joyful revival of "Buddy -- The Buddy Holly Story" stars Kieran McCabe, left, as the titular rocker, Jed Feder as drummer Jerry Allison and Shaun Whitley as bass player Joe Maudlin.

(Kieran Mcabe, Jed Fedder and Shaun Whitley)

4 Stars

After seeing “Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story,” an extraordinary musical production that opened at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, June 28, it’s hard not to think of Don Mclean’s version of ” American Pie” (see Rolling Stones and the “Day the Music Died) .

Of course, the show ends with a darkened stage for the tragic plane crash that took the lives of Holly, two other performers and the pilot. But the lights come back on, the music returns to high intensity and the audience knows Holly’s music lives on.

With “Buddy,” Marriott Theatre introduces another generation to Holly’s rock ‘ n’ roll style and songs. In doing so, the Marriott brilliantly cast Kieran McCabe as Buddy.

Written by Alan Janes, directed and choreographed by Amber Mak with music direction by Matt Deitchman, the production deserves  the long, standing ovation it received on opening.

Other versions of the show have been mostly on national and international tours, but if it returns to Broadway where it opened at the Shubert Theatre Nov. 4, 1990 (and ran for 225 performances), it should star the exceptionally talented McCabe as Buddy.

More than a “jukebox musical” featuring the songs of Holly, those of the “Crickets,” as they were known when they backed Holly, and later, after he died, other rock n’ roll songs of the 50s and 60s time period, it’s clear it takes more than just knowing how to play a guitar. A lot of “Buddy” is showmanship.

You see Holly turn audiences onto rock’n’roll as he moves from a less than successful start in Lubbock, Tx at age 19 where a recording studio manager wanted country, not rock’n’roll, through Nashville, TN and on to the NorVaJak Studios in Clovis, NM, where his and the Crickets “That’ll be the Day” recording was released, May 1957, reached number three on the Billboard Top 100 by mid-September and went on to future successes including in Harlem.

By the end of the show you see McCabe play his guitar backwards, over his head and stop at the piano to add a riff similar to what audiences see in “Million Dollar Quartet.”

Indeed, some of the musicians in Buddy” have played in that show. McCabe was Fluke, the drummer/ Crickets’ bassist Joe Maudlin was Carl Perkins.

The show, a rocking 100 minutes without intermission, magnificently proves, once again, that Buddy Holly’s musical vision, personality and ground-breaking style made him the super star that would live on past his tragic plane crash in 1959 at age 22.

DETAILS: “Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story” is at Marriott Theatre, 10¬† Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire, IL, now through Aug. 13, 2023 Run-time approx 100 minutes with no intermission. For tickets and other information visit Buddy.

Jodie Jacobs

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