Oxford Apollo, 18-22.02.03

Viewing the life of Buddy Holly through music is not a new trend. Most people will have heard of Buddy, whether through direct contact with his work or owing to Don McLean's dedication song, 'American Pie'. Using the songs that made Buddy Holly a household name, such as 'Why do fools fall in love', 'Maybe Baby' and 'Words of Love', Gus MacGregor (Buddy) brings the short career of this 1950's rock 'n' roll star to the Oxford Apollo this week.

In his horn-rimmed glasses, there was little chance that Buddy Holly would have been mistaken for a heartthrob - yet he remains one of the first rebel voices of youth. Beginning his career at KDAV radio in 1953, Buddy shocked his 'conservative' peers by developing his own type of rock 'n' roll. Breaking with convention he shocked contemporaries as he sung 'like a black boy', asked his Hispanic wife to marry him within five hours of knowing her and maintained an individual identity throughout his four years at the top.

The Buddy Holly Story is not a narrative of his life, it is an opportunity to experience his music. From his Bedroom in Texas, to the recording studio in Clovis New Mexico, the audience is able to live through Buddy Holly's distinctive creative process. Thereafter, you find yourself incorporated into the Apollo Theatre, Harlem and Buddy's last performance at the Clear Lake Concert in 1959. Joined by 'The Big Bopper' (Jaymz Denning) and Ritchie Valens (Ricky Rojas), the cast bring to the energy and anticipation of a live concert performance.

Their ability to make an audience genuinely laugh and celebrate what was for a while a great thing, is a credit to an exceptional team. The stage set is not only creative but slick and the musicians are inspiring. Watch out for Tim Parker, the Surf Ballroom Band Drum player, who wields a drumstick with outstanding precision.

Victoria Nystrom-Marshall, 18.02.03

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