Buddy at The Regent Theatre – Review by Mel Osbourne

4 Stars

When I was ten I used to love listening to all my Dad’s Buddy Holly records and dancing around the room to them. It didn’t seem the coolest thing to do when everyone else was listening to Bros or Michael Jackson, but I loved the stories the songs told. Time moved on I had many different music phases but even now when my love of fifties music faded, I can still remember all the words and remember the magic of the songs.

It seemed I wasn’t the only one. Buddy is the Buddy Holly story and has been touring for thirty years and is currently at the Regent theatre. Even if you barely remember Buddy, I recommend it as an amazing night out and you will certainly recognise many of the tunes.

The play tells the bittersweet story of Buddy Holly’s short but amazing life, when with other fellow musicians he brought Rock and Roll alive. It was an era of many changes and the birth of the teenager. Buddy was an ambitious young man and at an early age was plugging his music in search of a record contract. What was wonderful to see was an auditorium full of all ages from very young to the wonderfully mature, it seems the music touches many hearts.

The show does not disappoint. Buddy, played by AJ Jenks in this performance, gives a stunning portrayal of him. This is not just a stage play, it is a concert which reminds you how healing music is and how the music industry in the fifties was awakening and celebrating life after the horrific war.

As well as Buddy Holly we meet many other stars of the time including the Big Bopper and Richie Valens who gave stunning and somewhat cheeky performances that the audience adored.

The music is relentless and I was stunned at the stamina and performance level of the cast. There are some big voices belting out timeless classics. There are 30 songs in total tied in with a fast paced plot looking at Buddy’s life, from his hardworking days in the studio, to when he fell in love and married and then on to the inevitable heart churning ending that even sixty years on still brings a lump to my throat.

I was in awe of the scenery and lighting – I don’t think I have ever seen lighting been used as beautifully as I did with Buddy at The Regent. I felt that I was there, back in the fifties watching a live performance and wishing I really had been there.

As I cast my eye around the auditorium, I was delighted to see it so packed and so many people of all ages on their feet soaking up the atmosphere. This was certainly a family affair and I heard young people behind me singing along. What I didn’t realise as a young girl was that Buddy Holly was the reason and influence behind many big names we know today. This certainly makes a great night out for the whole family and is a show I could watch again and again.

Buddy is at The Regent Theatre in Hanley until Saturday 22 February 2020. Tickets are on sale here – www.agttickets.com


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