Rock of Ages: 'Buddy Holly' back with Broadway blessings for musical stage story

2013-06-17T00:00:00Z 2013-06-19T11:38:03Z Rock of Ages: 'Buddy Holly' back with Broadway blessings for musical stage storyBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Actor Andy Christopher credits his eyewear choice of black plastic frame glasses with helping change his destiny, from career path to music matters.

In 2010, he was a Texas college pre-med student when he saw a launch performance of the stage musical "Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story" in Lubbock, Texas, the hometown of the late rock icon.

"The cast from the production that played London's West End was flown in and it was fantastic," said Christopher, who wasn't all-so-familiar with Holly's life story.

"I was already wearing black frame glasses and people told me I looked like Buddy Holly, so when I heard they were casting, I auditioned."

Christopher, who already had an interest, experience and love for music, theater and performing, found himself cast in the new national tour of "Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story" and now wields a guitar in the guise of the young rock icon who helped change the course of music.

Broadway In Chicago is hosting this month's Windy City run of "Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story" at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph, for a limited engagement June 18 to 30.

In just three short years, rock legend Holly set the music world on fire and forever changed the face and sound of rock and roll.

But Christopher has found many of today's generation fails to realize the impact and contributions of Holly during his quick career before his death at age 22 in a plane crash in 1959.

"Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story" charts his meteoric climb, legendary adventures and tragic fall on the fateful day "the music died."

Armed with a Fender Stratocaster guitar, his signature specs and a charismatic blend of rockabilly swagger, Christopher as Holly explodes onto the stage in this jukebox musical fully loaded with classics "Peggy Sue," "Oh Boy," "That'll Be the Day," "Well All Right," "Not Fade Away" and many others, along with an encore Christopher promises "will have you on your feet and dancing in the aisles."

The production is directed and choreographed by Norb Joerder with creative consultation by Matt Salisbury and music direction by John Banister.

"So many of the names of today's music, from Elton John to Elvis Costello have credited Buddy Holly as their influence," Christopher said.

"Even Paul McCartney said The Beatles took their name inspired by Buddy Holly and the Crickets."

Currently alternating in the title role of Buddy Holly are Andy Christopher, as well as Kurt Jenkins. The cast also features Joe Cosmo Cogen as Jerry Allison, Ryan G. Dunkin as The Big Bopper, Ryan Jagru as Ritchie Valens, and Sam Weber as Joe B. Mauldin with Eric Scott Anthony, Greg Bosworth, Jennifer Drew, Steve Gagliastro, Noellia Hernandez, Carrie A. Johnson, Carolyn Malfa, Sean McGibbon, Lacretta Nicole, and T. Scott Ross.

The production is hailed as one of the first "jukebox musicals," and has been seen by millions of fans in 15 countries around the world, including the United States. The musical premiered in London’s West End in October 1989, where it ran for 12 years and more than 5,000 performances, with a Broadway production that followed in 1990. The score includes more than 20 of rock's greatest hits by Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and others.

Christopher is always excited about the national tour playing a stop in Chicago.

"My dad and his family are from Chicago on the south side," he said.

"So I'm expecting lots of cousins and family to be in the audience cheering us on."

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