That’ll be the week of Buddy

Dean Elliott and company in The Buddy Holly Story
Dean Elliott and company in The Buddy Holly Story

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I t has one of the clumsiest titles ever bestowed on a musical, but that has not thwarted its popularity.

Buddy The Buddy Holly Story (see what I mean) has been playing for 25 years, but that name has done nothing to deter audiences.

More than 22 million worldwide have turned out to see it, still captivated by the rock ’n’ roll icon in the heavy-rimmed specs.

The show made its West End debut in 1989 and has now joined Les Mis, Phantom, Joseph, Miss Saigon, Evita and Cats in the hall of fame of musicals which reached a quarter of a century on stage.

It inspired a generation of multi-million-selling juke-box musicals including Mamma Mia and We Will Rock You and it starts a week-long run at the Mayflower, Southampton, on Monday.

Buddy tells the tale of Holly’s meteoric rise to fame and his final legendary performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, before his death at the age of 22 in a plane crash in a snowstorm.

In 18 months the Texas-born boy revolutionised contemporary music influencing everyone from The Beatles to Bruce Springsteen.

The show presents two hours of music with more than 20 of his greatest hits.

They include the timeless classics That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue, Oh Boy and Rave On.

The Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace and Ritchie Valens’s La Bamba complete a stellar musical line-up. Both died alongside Holly.

Holly’s widow, Maria Elena Holly, says of the show’s latest milestone: ‘When we opened we never imagined Buddy’s music and story would still be rocking stages and entertaining audiences around the world week-in, week-out 25 years later.

‘This is testament to a great show – the first of its kind – and to the enduring appeal of Buddy Holly and what he represents; a youthful energy, huge talent and creativity, combined with a determination to make a lasting impression in this world.’

She adds: ‘Buddy was certainly a one-off.

‘It’s incredible to witness subsequent generations getting carried away with the music.

It runs from Monday until April 5 (7.30pm). Matinees, Thursday and Saturday at 2pm. Tickets: £15-£31 from (023) 8071 1811 or mayflower.org.uk.