Energetic, Exuberant Buddy--The Buddy Holly Story at UpStage Theatre

Categories: Music, Stage

Courtesy UpStage Theatre
Stephan Krosecz as Buddy Holly at Lambert Hall
The set up:
UpStage Theatre's production of Buddy-The Buddy Holly Story is heart-warming, vastly entertaining, full of musical classics, and, all-in-all, a glorious, flawed celebration. It is not really a play at all, though it sketches key events, but is one of the first jukebox musicals. The skits by Alan Janes that bridge the songs often lack pace and finesse, though the ground-breaking music is so toe-tapping that it hardly matters.

The execution:
Buddy Holly was a rock-and-roll pioneer who died tragically in 1959, at the age of 22, in a plane crash that also killed Ritchie Valens and J.P. (The Big Bopper) Richardson on the way to their next gig. Stephan Krosecz as Buddy has the requisite youth, a good voice and is eminently likable. He fills the lead role credibly, though he hasn't found the inner authority of a musical genius, nor captured the body language of Buddy as a performer. Brian Chambers plays drummer Jerry Allison, as well as Ritchie Valens, with engaging fun, and Sam Sigman portrays the Bopper with power and a magnetic stage presence. Todd Greenfield as an M.C. has great timing and delivery and also portrays bassist Joe B. Mauldin. Kurtis von Krueger plays guitarist sidekick Tommy Allsup with quiet effectiveness, and Marissa Viso is beautiful and appealing as Buddy's wife Maria Elena. Buddy's stint at the Apollo Theater in Harlem lets us see Norris T. Thompson II as a singer with an eye for the ladies, in a standout performance that is hilarious and captivating. Matt Zipko plays several roles well, and dances up a storm as a backup dancer.

The large ensemble provides strong support for the leads and contributes very substantially to the evening's success, up to and including (you guessed it) dancing in the aisles. While many of the songs are by Buddy - "That'll Be the Day" and "Peggy Sue," among others - the evening's renditions include of course "La Bamba" for Valens and "Chantilly Lace" for the Bopper. The large live band is excellent indeed. The entire fun-filled endeavor is extraordinarily ambitious for a small theater troupe, and the directors Sean K. Thompson and Arnold Richie are to be commended for tackling it and pulling it off.

The verdict:
Talent, energy and enthusiasm abound and more than make up for a borderline script that needs tightening. The exuberance onstage spreads to the appreciative audience, as they participate in the excitement of sharing a moment of musical history while having a fabulous time.

Through July 30, UpStage Theatre at Lambert Hall,1703 Heights Blvd., 713-838-7191.

Location Info


Upstage Theatre

1703 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: General

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I love Buddy Holly but there is a person to address about this topic. Timothy D Kehr, you are living 30+ years in the past. Who gives a hell about your commercials as most people who even remember them are dead or about to die. I'm sorry that you never accomplished stardom, but in your mind you did. You were a nobody and you still are a nobody! Why don't you close your eyes and dream about yourself walking down the red carpet, because it will only be a dream! Your name, TIMOTHY D. KEHR as if you are a recognizable name. You are the biggest phony in the Twin Cities. Also, by the way, you make it sound as if you are very wealthy. There is a running joke that we all have here here in Edina. We all know that you are the cheapest person in the Metro if not the state. All of us here talk about how you act like you are really something, but we laugh after you walk away as we have done this for years. Timmy, lets hear more about Buddy Holly and other topics that are so old that there should be dust coming out of your mouth Timmy boy the 60's were 40 years ago, back to reality now. News alert Tim, nobody cares about these topics but you, don't you get it? Most of us have known you for 20+ years and we are all wondering when you will finally realize that you are as important as the cleak at the Dollar Store. Wake up you idiot!

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