"Three young rock 'n' roll stars have been killed in a plane crash in the United States. Buddy Holly, 22, Jiles P Richardson - known as the Big Bopper - 28, and Ritchie Valens, 17, died in a crash shortly after take-off from Clear Lake, Iowa at 0100 local time. The pilot of the single-engined Beechcraft Bonanza plane was also killed. Early reports from the scene suggest the aircraft spun out of control during a light snowstorm" ... It was the career that was over almost as quickly as it started.
Throughout it's 25 year history, this, the original juke box musical has been seen by over 22 million people worldwide. Following the short career of the music legend, we start at the humble beginnings at the Grand Bowl, Lubback Texas with a fresh-faced enthusiastic Buddy played by the excellent Glen Joseph. Throughout Buddy's struggles with the music industry, turning his back on country and creating his own rock 'n' roll sound, Joseph has great charisma, endless energy and has us in the palm of his hand as he masters some of the most iconic hits including That'll Be The Day, Peggy Sue, Why Do Fools Fall In Love, Heartbeat and Johnny B Goode.
Joseph is joined on stage by Roger Rowley who plays Buddy at certain performances with the excellent duo Adam Flynn and Scott Haining as The Crickets. All music is played and sung live, which is the huge draw of this musical. Without the music, you'd have under 20 minutes of content. This is certainly the show for Buddy fans with little in the way of significant set changes or engaging dialogue but there is more than enough to make up for that by way of talent and incredible effort.
Surprisingly, some of the show's most exciting moments come from other members of the cast, including Lydia Fraser's hilarious, scene-stealing Apollo Performer - joined by Miguel Angel in an impressive rendition of Shout. Will Pearce rouses the crowd as Ritchie Valens with his hip swinging La Bamba.
The death of Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper interrupts what was an enjoyable finale of what was to become their final gig. It's a particularly effective halt that reenforces the shock and sudden devastation that followed the plane crash on 3 February 1959. The moment could have lasted longer but seemed rushed over to return to the high-energy finale. We are, after all, there for a good time and that's why the joy resumes so quickly. If you're not of a reminiscent age and struggle to recognise the music, it can feel a little exclusive but you can't help but appreciate the sheer talent on that stage.
This is the original jukebox musical that spawned all others of it's kind, many try but aren't nearly as successful at raising the roof in the ultimate celebration of some of the finest singers of all time. Click here and book now to see Buddy at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 28 June.