What do I say about the Buddy Holly musical? Act II plays like gangbusters. (I think I saw the roof levitate at Turtle Lane!) Act I, not so much. Thank heaven for the Apollo Theatre scenes with Nella Mupier and Chauncey Moore or there’d be nothing to write home about until after intermission.
The Patsy Cline musical suffers from the same limitations (radio station static, recording studio doldrums) but once you bypass the set-up, you get to the music – which is the whole point of these tribute shows anyway. BUDDY’s director James Tallach wrings what laughter he can from the script but it’s the recreation of the last concert for Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens that lifts you right out of your seat.
The TLP production (running through Sept.25th) has a dynamo to portray Buddy Holly: Patrick Maloney is a teenager who plays in local bands, looking like a cross between Bob Dylan and Holly and sounding remarkably like the rock ‘n roll pioneer. Craig McKerley, too, channels The Big Bopper, right down to his signature elevator voice drop. Music directors Sarah Hirsch and Kaley Sullivan deserve the lion’s share of the credit for the sensational concert replication. As soon as the orchestra begins to wail (with a first rate female brass section!), the audience can’t wait to start dancing in the aisles. “Rave On” simply brings down the house.