OPINION: Buddy’s success shows musical theater is alive and well | Avocado

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Don McLean’s 1971 song “American Pie” refers to the tragic deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper as “The Day the Music Died”. Well, he took little heed of Sid Sidebottom and the 2021 cast of the Devonport Choral Society, because if you visit Town Hall in the next few weeks it will be very clear that the legacy and music of Buddy are far from dead. Filled with 25 of the most iconic musical numbers from the 1950s, we can apologize for perhaps losing sight of the minimalist storyline. That said, what a smart choice for the Devonport Choral to select this deliberate concert-style show, protecting any unforeseen disruption from COVID-19. This tight, well-rehearsed ensemble of twelve, led by Ezra Shelverton as the title role of Buddy Holly, spends 100 long minutes restoring energy and color to the stage at the Paranaple Arts Center. Belinda Gunson and Jenny Slater take us on a trip down memory lane with finely detailed, era-specific set design. Wendy McCrae paired the pizzazz of the performances with equally glamorous costumes, all supporting public transport in the 1950s. McCrae and Sidebottom worked creatively to remain culturally sensitive and respectful, yet intelligent in their portrayal of the characters from sassy and moving artists at the Apollo, exquisitely performed by Tash Turner and Erin Araroa. These ladies welcome us to the Apollo, establish a strong audience participation that becomes a crucial acceleration for the energy that keeps growing from there. The story is carried and told by charismatic DJ Hipockets Duncan, played by Joel King. It’s great to see him come back to his original stage. A remarkable moment of intimate contrast was divinely played by Shelverton and Buddy’s future widowed wife, Maria Elena Santiago convincingly played by Taylor Rand. This tender moment takes place in Buddy and Maria’s New York apartment, far from the bright lights of show biz, and beautifully showcases the diverse skills of these two performers. Joy oozed from the four young men playing crickets. With Shelverton, Zac Weeks (Joe B. Mauldin), Janzen Reynolds (Jerry Allison) and an incredibly mature performance from the fourteen-year-old newcomer, Lucas Hodge (Niki Sullivan) made us all feel like the Crickets were the coolest group ever. to be around. It’s hard to believe Reynolds never played drums! Serious hours have obviously been invested in hard-core characterization and musicality, supported by the well-established Buddy Holly Orchestra, competently conducted by David Turner. The show ends as dramatically as Buddy’s life, but the audience is left alone to reflect briefly before the energy returns, ensuring that we leave the theater feeling as alive as the music we have witnessed. . In light of recent decisions by the local government (not too far from Devonport) to dramatically curtail community art projects, I urge our community to support our local theater companies doing their best to deliver artistic experiences that touch us, entertain us or challenge our thoughts. Netflix screens cannot deliver the same amount of enjoyment, nor provide the much needed injection of culturally rich entertainment for regional communities like ours. Book a restaurant, meet friends and have fun to celebrate not only the life and music of Buddy Holly, but also the revival of the live theater in Devonport. Best wishes to the cast and crew for a warmly received season. Dayna Dennison, Northwest Ambassador – National Festival of Musical Theater, Theater Teacher, Don College.

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