Northeast Times

Rockin’ reprise of Buddy Holly’s music, life story

It’s been seen by mil­lions around the globe, and now Phil­adelphia audi­ences get to re­live the ma­gic of the mu­sic of Buddy Holly, the bril­liant mu­si­cian who changed the face of pop­u­lar mu­sic and paved the way for the next gen­er­a­tion of rock ‘n’ rollers.

With Chris­toph­er Sut­ton in the title role, Buddy — The Buddy Holly Story con­tin­ues at the Wal­nut Street Theatre through Ju­ly 15.

The story fol­lows the su­per­star’s met­eor­ic rise to fame, from his humble coun­try mu­sic roots to the top of the re­cord charts, to his un­timely death in a plane crash in 1959.

Sut­ton is no new­comer to the role of Buddy Holly. A three-time Bar­ry­more award nom­in­ee for Blood Broth­ers and Singing in the Rain, he won the award for The Buddy Holly Story in 1999.

“And it feels so good to be back,” Sut­ton said. “I’ve done the role in sev­er­al oth­er theat­ers since play­ing it at the Wal­nut, but this pro­duc­tion really cap­tures my heart.”

In fact, Sut­ton ad­ded, act­ing in gen­er­al cap­tured his heart ever since he was a little boy. “I al­ways loved read­ing, and when I dis­covered and read Shakespeare as a kid it made me want to be­come an act­or. I liked the chamele­on as­pect of act­ing, and this show at the Wal­nut al­lows me to do just that.”

Al­though Holly’s mu­sic be­came pop­u­lar in the ’50s, and Sut­ton ad­mit­ted to just be­ing in his mid-30s today, he nev­er­the­less grew up with the mu­sic of that era — thanks to his par­ents who had all Holly’s re­cords and played them all the time at home.

“I still love the mu­sic, and so do audi­ences, which I think is one reas­on why they keep com­ing back to see the show,” Sut­ton said. “There’s truth and hon­esty in the show, and a joy in the mu­sic you can’t help but love and re­act to.”

In the audi­ence, Sut­ton ad­ded, “we have 12 year olds who nev­er heard of Buddy Holly, and 90  year olds who will nev­er for­get him. They’ll all be dan­cing in the aisles once they hear such clas­sic fa­vor­ites as Peggy Sue, Oh Boy, Maybe Baby, That’ll Be The Day, La Bamba and oth­ers.”

Sut­ton, him­self a mu­si­cian as well as an act­or, is a great ad­mirer of Holly’s mu­sic and his life‘s story. “I think Holly was way bey­ond his years as far as the mu­sic he wrote. The songs are al­most like po­etry, and so power­ful that you wouldn’t think someone so young could have writ­ten them.”

And even at the time he was writ­ing and per­form­ing, Sut­ton ad­ded, “Holly was so id­ol­ized by so many that even the Beatles took their name be­cause they ad­mired Holly and the Crick­ets so much.”

In this show, Sut­ton will be act­ing, singing and dan­cing, as well as join­ing oth­er act­ors on stage mak­ing mu­sic. There is no or­ches­tra pit in this show. Rather, Sut­ton said, “when you hear the mu­sic of Buddy Holly and the Crick­ets, it’s just me play­ing the gui­tar, an­oth­er act­or on the bass, and an­oth­er on the drums.”

Over the years, Sut­ton has won sev­er­al oth­er awards, and ap­peared in many shows, in­clud­ing the na­tion­al tour of Monty Py­thon’s Spamalot, I Love You, You’re Per­fect, Now Change, Me and My Girl, Ca­rou­sel and oth­ers.

“Of course I have fa­vor­ite roles, but I will say this one is right up there on my list, mainly be­cause Holly was a real per­son and I find do­ing roles like that very in­ter­est­ing and a lot of fun,” Sut­ton said.

For times and tick­et in­form­a­tion, call 215-574-3550.

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