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.