By Barbara B. Covell
For the TODAY
Here is the story of the great Buddy Holly, the charming everyman who electrified the ’50s with his own brand of rockabilly rhythms.
“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” is told by playwright Alan Janes in this electrifying musical, directed by veteran performer Erik Furuheim and featuring 20 of Holly’s rock and roll hits. Musical director Mark Lackey orchestrates the on-stage musicians who play stellar keyboard, saxophones, trombone, in addition to the drums, electric guitars and bass of Holly’s band The effect is mesmerizing.
Furuheim’s cast includes professional New York actor Matt McClure, who has portrayed Holly in numerous touring companies, singing, dancing, playing guitar and basically rocking the house.
“The Buddy character is central to the story,” Furuheim said. “He has to play guitar and become Buddy Holly through his vocals and acting chops. I was fortunate to work with Matt McClure in Tacoma theatre and knew it was essential to have him here.”
McClure has devoted six weeks to making this a standout show under the Porthole Players’ umbrella of outstanding musicals. Furuheim credits him as co-director, co-music director, co-designer and set builder.
Furuheim has assembled a cast rich in talent.
“We have tremendous versatility with our local actors, many who play multiple roles,” he said. “I was fortunate also to bring in actors from Nashville, Portland, and other cities. They have all previously portrayed an array of “Buddy” characters.”
Tacoma actor Anthony Deleon is a true showstopper as Richie Valens. His version of “La Bamba” will have people dancing in their seats. Jon O’Guin, also from Tacoma, plays the pivotal role of Norman Petty, the producer and manager for Buddy and the Crickets. Other out of town talent including DaNiesha Carr dances and sings in the ensemble cast, Jim Book is the lighting designer and Cassandra DeChant is choreographer.
The array of local talent in this cast cements the calibre of this musical. Adrien Frazier, Cameron Locklear and Julian Elizalde portray Buddy’s bandmates, the Crickets. Jaden Rockwell is Maria Elena, Buddy Holly’s wife. Pete Theodore showcases his DJ voice as High Pockets Duncan. Cassie Lihou, Stacy Fisher and William Webster, all accomplished actors, portray multiple roles in the ensemble cast. This is a tight cast with exceptional timing and vocal abilities.
And certainly don’t miss Furuheim as the “Big Bopper,” JP Richardson. He not only fills the roles of co-director, co-producer, co-designer, and set builder, but as the “Big Bopper” Furuheim belts out, dances, and moves like the original.
Lee Ritzman is the lead set builder, Vickie Steen is co-producer and Stephan is scene painter.
“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” runs from Friday, Nov. 16, through Sunday, Dec. 2, with performances at 7 pm every Friday and Saturdays, and 2 pm matinées each Sunday. All shows take place at the Newport Performing Arts Center, 777 W Olive Street.
Tickets, $25 for adults, $23 for seniors and $20 students. For more information and tickets, call 541-265-2787 or go to www.CoastArts.org.