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'Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story'

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Elated with their debut at the Apollo in Harlem, Buddy Holly (Kyle Jurassic), far right, and the Crickets jump together in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story."
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Ritchie Valens (Edward LaCardo) performs “LaBamba.”
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Buddy Holly (Kyle Jurassic) performs with the Crickets, Jerry Allison (Josh McLemore), on drums, and Joe Maudlin (James Daley), on bass.
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Mama Pearl (Tarra Conner Jones) sings “Shout” at the Apollo.

By John J. Guglielmi - For The Courier-Times

It was the late fifties and my friends and I were in middle school. We were always on the lookout for new and different music. Buddy Holly and the Crickets had a unique sound and were an instant hit at Wyalusing Valley Middle School. We played their 45s at sock hops and parties and listened to their songs on the radio. I was working in my parent’s kitchen at The Breezy View restaurant in 1959 when I heard the sad news about the plane crash. I was a high school sophomore that year.

Saturday night at the Beef and Boards Diner Theatre brought back pleasant memories of good times and great rock and roll music. “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” tells the story of Buddy Holly, the Crickets and their short musical journey from Lubbock, Texas to stardom to tragedy.

From a small radio station in Lubbock, Texas, the Crickets broke out of Western music and slipped a rock & roll ‘Ready Teddy’ onto to the airwaves. Buddy was always insistent on doing things his way and playing his kind of music.

The talent in the “Buddy Holly Story” is exceptional to say the least. Kyle Jurassic, who plays Buddy, could be his twin brother. Kyle’s guitar playing is something that has to be heard and seen to believe. James Daley appears as Cricket’s base player Joe Maudlin. Daley can play and do things with his bass that you would never get away with in the high school band.

Josh McLemore acts as drummer Jerry Allison and he doesn’t miss a beat through the many songs of the Crickets. The fourth Cricket is Christopher Tucker, who also plays guitar and compliments the group beautifully.

The Buddy Holly Story is a musical train ride on the fast track with over thirty songs. Twenty of these are numbers that Holly and the Crickets wrote during their short career. Some of those hits are “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Everyday,” “Oh Boy,” “Not Fade Away,” “Rave On” and “Raining In My Heart.”

Also included are Ritchie Valens’ (Edward LaCardo) “La Bamba” and the Big Bopper’s (Chuck Caruso) “Chantilly Lace.”

A big break for the Buddy Holly and the Crickets came when they were booked at the Apollo Theater in New York City’s Harlem. The scene at the Apollo starts like a hurricane when the announcer brings Mama Pearl (Tara Conner Jones) on stage and she sings a powerful and lengthy version of “Shout” that brings the house to their feet.

The Crickets were the next act but don’t realize that they are going to perform to an all black audience. They are stunned when the curtain opens. But after a couple minutes of surprise looks from both sides, Buddy launches into “Not Fade Away” and wins over the audience, the announcer and Mama Pearl.

The final performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake Iowa is an amazing rock and roll cornucopia of song, dance and spectacle. Many audience members sang along and tapped their feet to numbers they remembered form their teenage years.

The stage suddenly goes dark and the radio announcer reads a news story of the plane crash while photos of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens are projected onto the stage.

Then Bam, the show goes on. More songs, dancing and outstanding musicianship finish off the Buddy Holly Story to an audience that is on their feet, singing and swaying to the music.

If you love early rock and roll and the history of Buddy Holly and the Crickets, prepare yourself for a night of musical delights.

The show runs through August 18th. For reservations call 317-872-9664 or more information at www.beefandboards.com.