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By Jessica Wiant - email@example.com
MIDDLETOWN - It brought in more crowds to Wayside Theatre than any other production in the theater's history, and now it's back.
"Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" is returning for shows Jan. 30 through March 13, with many of the cast from the theater's 2006 production reprising their roles.
Audiences back then returned four and five times to see it, says Warner Crocker, the theater's artistic director and director of "Buddy."
It was a "magical experience for us," he says, and while theatergoers have given performances many standing ovations in the past, never before "Buddy" were they on their feet for the final 20 minutes of a show.
"You would think they were at a concert," he says.
That stands to reason.
"Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" tells the story of Holly and his band, the Crickets, introducing Holly before he became famous and following him to his final concert with Richie Valens and The Big Bopper, Crocker says.
Just as he was becoming a rock 'n' roll superstar in the late 1950s, Holly tragically died in a plane crash along with Valens and The Big Bopper on their way to the next tour stop. It was an event that later became known as "the day the music died."
Like most of Wayside's productions, there is no lack of live music.
Guitar, bass, drums, saxophone, keyboards, trumpets and more are featured in "Buddy" during performances of many of his rock 'n' roll hits, including "That'll Be The Day," "Peggy Sue" and "Oh Boy," according to Crocker.
Wayside audiences have come to love the live performances and the way performers switch instruments, Crocker says. Music director Steve Przybylski "is amazing at creating arrangements for our musicians to take advantage of their talents," Crocker says.
One of those talents is Robbie Limon, who will again fill the role of Holly.
"We would be silly to do the show again without Robbie," Crocker says.
Limon says it was during Wayside's first production of the Buddy Holly story that he became familiar with -- and a fan of -- Holly.
"I did become a fan and came to appreciate what he meant to music," he says.
While his fame only lasted about 18 months, Holly wrote so many hits and later became an influence for the "greatest band of all time," The Beatles, Limon says.
"Buddy was just a young, hungry, eager guy," he says.
Limon says he enjoys "Buddy" for the music itself: He even wrote his own Holly show after Wayside's first performance of "The Buddy Holly Story," that he has performed several times.
The difference between Limon's show and the one being performed at Wayside, which was written by Alan Janes and Rob Bettison, is with Wayside's you get more of the story, Limon says.
"You get a good picture of this young man's life," Crocker says.
The show is an upbeat, fun one at the same time, Limon says.
"I want people in the aisles dancing," he says. "It's that kind of show. You almost dance going out the door."
The show replaces "Idols of the King," a musical about Elvis Presley, which the theater had planned to put on but had to cancel because of financial and licensing issues, according to a news release.
Other cast members include Thomasin Savaiano, Richard Follett, Pryzbylski, Clay Arthur, Vaughn Irving, David Maga, Bob Payne, Aviva Pressman and Jayson Belew.
"Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story"
• Wayside Theatre is encouraging patrons to put on their best 1950s attire, including bobby socks, poodle skirts, saddle shoes, penny loafers and duck-tail hair, for the 7:30 p.m. performance of "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" on Jan. 30. "Dress for the '50s Night" will feature tickets to the show for $20 and a prize for the best '50s costume.
• "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" will be performed at Wayside Theatre in Middletown at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 30. Official opening night is Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m. Through March 13, performances will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Sunday matinees will be held at 2:30 p.m. beginning on Feb. 14. Tickets range from $25 to $30 for adults and are $10 for children 17 and younger.
• For tickets or more information, call the box office at 869-1776 or go online to www.waysidetheatre.org.
-- Source: Wayside Theatre