The Night the Music Lived

Buddy Holly Story

Michael Perrie, Jr. as Buddy Holly

His career spanned a year and a half, but in that time he revolutionized rock and roll and left an indelible fingerprint that would inspire some of the greatest performers of all time.  His story is the focus of Buddy:  The Buddy Holly Story by Alan Janes and currently playing at Maples Repertory Theatre.

Janes’ script falls somewhere between a play and a jukebox musical.  Precious little of Holly’s life is covered in the show.  The play part focuses on certain key points in his life from his struggles as a teenager trying to become a rock star in the country music meccas of Texas and Nashville to his nabbing a recording contract with an open minded producer to his legendary Apollo performance to his whirlwind marriage to his break-up with the Crickets and, finally, to his final concert at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA.  Needless to say, the jukebox part focuses on Holly’s hits as well as numerous other hits of the day.

Tim Seib masterfully handles the dual direction required of the production.  He musters every ounce of story, nuance, and emotion from the story portion of the production.  In fact, I was incredibly impressed with his work for the romance between Holly and his wife, Maria Elena Santiago, which is the richest part of the story from an acting perspective.  Seib nabs an easy A+ directing the action of the musical part of the show which is good, old fashioned, pulse pounding rock and roll.

Some wonderful featured performances were supplied by Alan Gillespie as Norman Petty, the producer willing to allow Holly the chance to record music his way, but also lives up to his last name by attempting to screw Holly over by keeping the Crickets and taking the band name when Holly decides to change labels; Garrick Vaughan and Nissi Shalome as a pair of Apollo performers who give a rousing rendition of “Shout” and mercilessly heckle Holly and his band before their performance; Mike Brennan is an indefatigable cauldron of energy as J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and excels with his solo in “Chantilly Lace”.

I’d also like to give some special notice to Alix Rhode who gives a subtle and moving performance as Maria Elena Santiago.  She is strong, bold, and so loving and supportive of Buddy and your heart breaks as you know her fears for Holly’s safety are all too true.

This show lives or dies by the performer playing Buddy Holly and Michael Perrie, Jr. admirably carries the load of this show on his shoulders.

Perrie IS Buddy Holly and practically reincarnates him in front of the eyes of the audience.  Not only does Perrie bear a remarkable physical similarity to the late singer, but he also effortlessly emulates his look, assumes his accent and speech cadences, and even gets that unique hiccup in his voice when he sings.

Perrie brings some serious acting chops to the role.  He manages to show Holly’s politeness and decency, but also his toughness as Holly wouldn’t back down from anyone when it came to his music.  He also well plays Holly’s free-spirited nature.  This was a man who always marched to his own beat no matter what anyone thought about his choices.  He also expertly handles the heartache of Buddy’s life, shedding real tears when the Crickets abandon him and, more or less, yank the band name from him.

Musically, Perrie is also outstanding.  He’s a guitar player par excellence and easily handled rock numbers such as “Not Fade Away”, “Oh, Boy!”, and “That’ll Be the Day”, but he was just as nimble and moving on the softer numbers such as “True Love Ways”, “Words of Love”, and “Heartbeat”.

Cullen Law’s musical direction was exceptional as he and his performers made these classic tunes their own.  Jack Smith’s costumes were superb, from the elegant suits for the men to the pretty gowns for the ladies. Ali Strelchun has created a nice three sided set with a massive band area at center stage, a small radio station at house left, and Petty’s tiny recording studio at house right.  Jess Fialko’s lights are spot on with colors and intensity matching the energy and emotions of the songs and an incredibly poignant blackout for The Day the Music Died.

I want to take a moment and applaud all of the actors for showing great poise under pressure as they battled microphone issues throughout the night, but steamrolled right over them.

Some music experts have argued that, had Holly’s life not been cut short, Buddymania may have ruled the world due to the breakthroughs he was making with music.  Though his life was tragically short, he left behind an amazing legacy that is still inspiring musicians today.  And if you want a taste of musical history and a fun filled time, go see this show.

Music Lived

The Day the Music Died (Left to right: Mike Brennan as the Big Bopper, Michael Perrie, Jr. as Buddy Holly, & Chase Tucker as Ritchie Valens)

Buddy:  The Buddy Holly Story plays at Maples Repertory Theatre through August 11.  Performances are at 2pm on July 28, 31 and August 2-4, 6, 10, 11 and 7:30pm on July 31, August 2, 4, 7, 9-10.  Tickets start at $24 and can be obtained at www.maplesrep.com or contacting the Box Office at 660-385-2924.  Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.

Pictures supplied through courtesy of Maples Repertory Theatre

This review is dedicated to the memory of Kay McGuigan.  We miss you, friend!

MRT Will Show You How it’s Gonna Be with ‘Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story’

Maples Repertory Theatre Presents:

Buddy:  The Buddy Holly Story by Alan James

Synopsis

Follow the incredible journey of Buddy Holly’s meteoric rise to the top of the record charts during the golden days of rock ‘n’ roll in this dynamic tribute musical. You’ll be cheering for more, with such rousing fifties favorites as “Peggy Sue,” “Oh Boy,” “Maybe Baby,” “That’ll Be the Day,” “Raining In My Heart,” Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” and the Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace.” This joyous celebration of a musical legend has audiences on their feet in every corner of the globe and it will explode on the Royal Stage in a toe-tapping, hand-clapping extravaganza! “Oh Boy!”

Showtimes

  • Fri. July 19 – 7:30
  • Sat. July 20 – 2:00
  • Tues. July 23 – 2:00
  • Wed. July 24 – 2:00
  • Sat. July 27 – 7:30
  • Sun. July 28 – 2:00
  • Wed. July 31 – 2:00, 7:30
  • Fri. Aug. 2 – 2:00, 7:30
  • Sat. Aug. 3 – 2:00
  • Sun. Aug. 4 – 2:00, 7:30
  • Tues. Aug. 6 – 2:00
  • Wed. Aug. 7 – 7:30
  • Fri. Aug. 9 – 7:30
  • Sat. Aug. 10 – 2:00, 7:30
  • Sun. Aug. 11 – 2:00

Tickets start at $24 and can be obtained by contacting the Box Office at 660-385-2924 or visiting www.maplesrep.com.  Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.

Bare Pride

Six laid off steel mill workers decide to become strippers in hopes of a big payday.  This is the thrust of The Full Monty by Terrance McNally with music and lyrics by David Yazbeck and is currently playing at Maples Repertory Theatre.

After reading my opening paragraph, you might be asking yourself, “Is this show raunchy?”  And the answer is “Yes, a little.”  When a story is about a group of mostly blue-collar guys deciding to strip, I would have been quite surprised if there had been no crudity.  But that isn’t the real story of the show.

The show is about WHY these men decide to become strippers.  That turns it into a story about pride.  You see the good side of pride because these men have stopped feeling like men due to their long unemployment.  They simply want to be good providers for their families again.  You also see the negative side of pride due to their unwillingness to take lesser jobs until something better comes along.  There’s even a bit of nobility to their decision to strip as all are extremely uncomfortable at the thought of baring it all, but are willing to make a sacrifice to their pride in this respect in order to put food on the table.

Brandon McShaffrey provides some top quality direction and choreography to this musical.  He has an iron grip on the true themes of this show and helps his cast make nuanced, multilayered people out of their characters.  The staging is impeccable, utilizing the entire theatre to tell this story.  His choreography is also a great deal of fun with my personal favorite dance numbers being “Big Black Man” and “Michael Jordan’s Ball”.

As for the cast. . .my, my, my.  There isn’t a bum in the lot.  Some of the 5 star performances you’ll see come from Nancy Marcy as an acerbic former entertainer (maybe?) who just randomly shows up with a piano to provide musical accompaniment for the would-be strippers; Garrick Vaughan as Noah “Horse” T. Simmons who dances like Fred Astaire in spite of a dodgy hip; Todd J. Davison as the buttoned down Harold Nichols who reluctantly teaches the troupe how to do a strip tease; Matthew Sather as the dumb as a post Ethan Girard who makes em laugh with his repeated failures to complete Donald O’Connor’s wall flip from “Make Em Laugh”; and last, but certainly not least, Madison Kauffman and Kyrstin Skidmore as Georgie Bukatinsky and Pam Lukowski, the wife and ex-wife of the two leading characters.  Both are rocks in their relationships with their husband and ex-husband.

I also want to take a moment to note the powerful performance of Michael Perrie, Jr. as Malcolm McGregor.  This is a sublime performance as Perrie captures the essence of a somewhat nerdy, lonely, repressed man who is dominated by his mother.  His decision to strip actually raises him up as he finally has friends and is able to embrace his own sexual identity.  Perrie has a stunning tenor and has the night’s most moving number, “You Walk with Me”.

Alan Gillespie plays Jerry Lukowski and is brilliant.  Gillespie’s Lukowski is about as blue-collar as you get.  He swears.  He’s opinionated.  He’s even a bit of a hustler who has clearly talked his best friend into a lot of hare-brained schemes in the past.  But he’s also a bit of a sensitive soul and some of his braggadocio is a cover for how scared he truly feels at the moment.  He wants to work and provide and he’s truly fearful about losing custody rights to his son due to being unable to pay child support.  Jerry’s decision to strip is not a get rich quick scheme.  It’s a desperate attempt to obtain enough money quickly enough so he can still be a dad to his son.

Gillespie has flawless delivery and can snap off a bon mot in one moment and be staggeringly tender in the next.  His singing voice is fantastic and can be snarkingly amusing such as “Big-Ass Rock” where he sings about helping a friend commit suicide or heartbreakingly loving such as singing to his sleeping son in “Breeze Off the River”.

My hat is off to Bobby Montaniz with his performance as Dave Bukatinsky.  Due to the loss of a performer, Montaniz only had 4 days to learn his part, but you’d think he’d had 4 months with the confidence of his performance.  To be honest, Montaniz is confidently unconfident with his take on Dave.  Unemployment has broken Dave.  He no longer feels like a man and makes the mistake of carrying the burden by himself instead of sharing it with his wife.  He is extremely self-conscious about stripping due to being overweight and takes a job he hates because he loves his wife.  But when he finally opens up to Georgie, it’s the play’s most satisfying moment as he finally gains the courage he needs to let it all hang out.

Yvonne Johnson’s costumes do the trick from the very casual wear of most of the steel mill workers to the breakaway costumes of the strippers.  My favorite bit of costuming is from the number “The Goods” when the women are dressed in the working gear of stereotypically masculine jobs to ogle/deride our wannabe strippers.  P. Bernard Killian has designed a series of set pieces that encourage the imagination to complete the picture such as the wall and large picture window of Harold’s house to the glittery curtains used for the strip shows.  Jess Fialko does fine work with the lights from the colorful flashes on the performance curtain to the darkening of the theatre for the strippers to the soft lights for the play’s more tender moments.  Sky Aguilar has some great sounds for the show from the engine of a car running when one of the characters tries to monoxide himself to the crashes and thuds of Ethan trying to flip around backstage.  Patrick Summers and his orchestra really play up the fun of the amusing and sometimes sensitive score.

This show is a lot of fun and is far more than a tale about male strippers.  It’s about pride.  It’s about friendship.  It’s about the real meaning of being a man.  It’s about family.  And it is definitely a good time.

The Full Monty plays at Maples Repertory Theatre through July 7.  Showtimes are at 2pm June 23, 28, July 2-3, 7 and at 7:30pm June 23, 26, 29, July 5-6.  Tickets begin at $24 and be obtained by calling the Box Office at 660-385-3924 or visiting www.maplesrep.com.  Due to strong language and sensitive subject matter, this show is for mature audiences.  Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.

Drunk with Laughter

A chance meeting between four middle aged women results in the formation of a weekly happy hour society.  As their bonds of friendship grow, each begins to rediscover herself in a new phase of life.  This is The Savannah Sipping Society by Jamie Wooten, Jessie Jones, and Nicholas Hope and is currently playing at Maples Repertory Theatre.

This is a truly funny slice of life story.  The dialogue sparks and crackles with witty repartee and deadly sharp one liners.  Even more impressive is the fact that Wooten, Jones, and Hope have written a show that manages to keep an audience’s attention without benefit of a centralizing story.  This show is truly just a show about friendship and how these friends support each other through their individual arcs.  Each character is going through a major life change that can be universally understood by an audience:  divorce, death of a loved one, job loss, and finding one’s self.  As a unit, these four women work through these life changes and buoy each other as they become better versions of themselves due to the power of their friendship which enables them to overcome the obstacles in their paths to become more than they thought possible.

Talky shows are a difficult sell.  Talky comedies are even more difficult because it requires a masterful handling of the dialogue to sell it without benefit of sight gags and hijinks and a minute understanding of characters and their interactions to get the show where it needs to be.  Thanks to Peter Reynolds’ top notch direction, I have seen the best talky comedy ever.

Reynolds coaches a high caliber cast who keep the energy high and know just what words to hit to pick every piece of delectable fruit from the verbal tree of this comedy.  His understanding of the characters and how they interact is spot on as I fully believed in the friendship of this foursome in spite of their individual quirks.

As played by Erin Kelley, Randa Covington is a stick in the mud’s stick in the mud.  Randa has no life outside of her career and tries to live life logically which goes to pot after she is fired from her job.  Ms Kelley is wonderful as the overly serious and cautious Randa who is too focused on material success due to a desire to stick it to her dysfunctional family and too stiff to enjoy life. Seeing her loosen up and realize that life is an adventure to be experienced and learning what makes for a true family is one of the highlights of the production.

Nancy Marcy almost steals the show as Marlafaye Mosley.  Ms Marcy’s Marlafaye is the group friend whom you always feel will embarrass the group.  She has no internal filter or tact and says whatever she is thinking whenever she feels like it.  On the other hand, if you have a friend in her, you’ll have a friend for life and one who would walk into the depths of hell with you to watch your back.  Rare is the performer who can deliver a punchline like Ms Marcy who throws off acid tongue zingers as if they’re second nature.  Her performance is worth the price of a ticket by itself.

Donna M. Parrone is sweet as Dot Haigler.  Her interpretation of Dot will remind you of your own mother due to her kindliness and supportiveness and her occasional half step off attempts to fit in to the group activities.  Dot is definitely the most sympathetic character as life seems to beat her up a bit more than the others.  But Ms Parrone brings real strength to the character and shows it’s not about how hard you hit, but by how hard you get hit and yet keep moving forward.

Megan Opalinski is a riot as Jinx Jenkins.  Ms Opalinski’s Jinx is the friend who always manages to talk you into doing something against your better judgment.  She’s brassy, confident, stylish, and always looking for the next adventure.  But Ms Opalinski also brings a real dramatic heft to the character as she is on the search for an unknown something that keeps her from settling down in one place.  From her lovely performance, we learn the best meaning of the word family in both contexts, i.e.  the ones you choose and the ones you get.

P. Bernard Killian’s set is a beaut with the large veranda of the yellow house with the stunning Georgian columns and the glass French doors. Yvonne Johnson expertly costumes her performers appropriate to their personalities from the subdued, business garments of Randa, to the white trash garb of Marlafaye, to the motherly wear of Dot, and the stylish clothes of Jinx. Also impressive were some medieval gowns for a Renaissance fair scene, especially Marlafaye’s jester costume.

There were a few minor blips in lines and cue pickups, but this show is going to make you laugh yourself hoarse and It just might pull a tear from your eye along the way.

The Savannah Sipping Society plays at Maples Repertory Theatre through July 27 at Maples Repertory Theatre.  Showtimes are 2pm on June 22, 25-26, 29-30, July 5, 9-10, 12-14, 21, and 27 and at 7:30pm on July 3, 12, 20, 24, 26.  Tickets begin at $24 and can be obtained by calling the box office at 660-385-2924 or visiting www.maplesrep.com.  Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.

‘The Savannah Sipping Society’ Opens June 21 at Maples Repertory Theatre

Maples Repertory Theatre Presents

The Savannah Sipping Society

by Jesse Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten

In this delightful, laugh-a-minute comedy, four unique Southern women, all needing to escape the sameness of their day-to-day routines, are drawn together by Fate—and an impromptu happy hour— and decide it’s high time to reclaim the enthusiasm for life they’ve lost through the years. Over the course of six months, filled with laughter, hilarious misadventures, and the occasional liquid refreshment, these middle-aged women successfully bond and find the confidence to jumpstart their new lives. Together, they discover lasting friendships and a renewed determination to live in the moment—and most importantly, realize it’s never too late to make new old friends. So raise your glass to these strong Southern women and their fierce embrace of life and say “Cheers!”

Performance Dates

  • Fri. June 21 – 7:30
  • Sat. June 22 – 2:00
  • Tues. June 25 – 2:00
  • Wed. June 26 – 2:00
  • Sat. June 29 – 2:00
  • Sun. June 30 – 2:00
  • Wed. July 3 – 7:30
  • Fri. July 5 – 2:00
  • Tues. July 9 – 2:00
  • Wed. July 10 – 2:00
  • Fri. July 12 – 2:00, 7:30
  • Sat. July 13 – 2:00
  • Sun. July 14 – 2:00
  • Sat. July 20 – 7:30
  • Sun. July 21 – 2:00
  • Wed. July 24 – 7:30
  • Fri. July 26 – 7:30
  • Sat. July 27 – 2:00

Tickets begin at $24 and can be obtained by contacting the Box Office at 660-385-2924. Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.

Maples Repertory Theatre Launches 16th Season with ‘The Full Monty’

Maples Repertory Theatre Presents:

The Full Monty

by Terrence McNally and David Yazbek

One truly unforgettable crowd-pleaser! After watching their wives revel in a bit of manly mischief during a “Girls’ Night Out,” six unemployed steel workers from Buffalo decide to go buff to pay their bills and get much more than they bargained for! Out of shape and out of step, can these unlikely performers pull it off when then decide to take it all off? Watch as these macho men develop meaningful friendships, take charge of their lives and overcome fear to become the most unlikely group of exotic dancers in history. The Full Monty will have you tapping your toes and rolling with laughter.

Performance Dates

  • Wed. June 12 – 7:30
  • Fri. June 14 – 2:00, 7:30
  • Sat. June 15 – 2:00
  • Sun. June 16 – 2:00
  • Tues. June 18 – 2:00
  • Sat. June 22 – 7:30
  • Sun. June 23 – 2:00, 7:30
  • Wed. June 26 – 7:30
  • Fri. June 28 – 2:00
  • Sat. June 29 – 7:30
  • Tues. July 2 – 2:00
  • Wed. July 3 – 2:00
  • Fri. July 5 – 7:30
  • Sat. July 6 – 7:30
  • Sun. July 7 – 2:00

Tickets begin at $24 and can be obtained by contacting the Box Office at 660-385-2924.  Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.

“On Golden Pond” Opening at Maples Repertory Theatre

The fifteenth season of live professional plays at Maples Repertory Theatre continues with Ernest Thompson’s American classic, On Golden Pond, October 24 – November 4. A truly golden gem, On Golden Pond is a play for all ages. It explores with humor and wisdom the struggles of getting old, being the adult child of your parents and being twelve years old. The beauty of On Golden Pond is the empathy and understanding that it evokes for each of those stages of life.

On Golden Pond is the funny, poignant story of Norman and Ethel Thayer, who for 40 years have spent their summers at a lake house on Golden Pond in Maine. We watch as they experience the perilous journey into creaky joints, arthritis, forgetfulness and heart palpitations. This is the unique journey of a long wedded couple whose quiet, routine summer on the lake is disrupted when their daughter drops off her significant other’s teenage son. She asks that they keep this suburban teen so that she and her fiancé can spend quality time together on a European vacation. As most parents do, they agree to help out and so this wonderful coming of age tale begins.

Featured in the Maples Rep production are James Anthony and Judi Mann, a pair of actors who are married in real life. Playing their daughter, Chelsea, is Ashley Pankow, a Kansas City based actor who has been part of the Maples Rep Company several times. These three actors face the daunting challenge of stepping into roles made famous in the 1981 film version by Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn and Jane Fonda. In the intimate setting of the Royal Theatre, the audience will be able to connect with the characters and their struggles and joys in a unique way.

On Golden Pond is a coming-of-age story in the sense that it explores many stages of life. The “seniors” know their lives are changing and the can look back on experiences of a long life. The “middle-aged” daughter is finding it necessary to connect with her parents in new ways. The young boy finds himself in a completely new environment and making an unexpected connection with the elderly couple. Hopes, dreams, regrets and possibilities all play a role in this special summer On Golden Pond.

Performances and Ticket Information:

Wed. Oct. 24 – 7:30

Fri. Oct. 26 – 2:00, 7:30

Sat. Oct. 27 – 2:00, 7:30

Sun. Oct. 28 – 2:00

Tues. Oct. 30 – 2:00

Wed. Oct. 31 – 2:00

Fri. Nov. 2 – 2:00, 7:30

Sat. Nov. 3 – 2:00, 7:30

Sun. Nov. 4 – 2:00

Tickets: $24-31

Call 660-385-2924 or visit maplesrep.com to get your tickets today!

Rated PG for some strong language and adult themes

Location

Maples Repertory Theatre
102 N Rubey St
Macon, MO 63552

Cast

James Anthony as Norman

Judi Mann as Ethel

Ashley Pankow as Chelsea

Todd J. Davison as Bill

Andrew Stachurski as Charlie

Henry Kallerud as Billy Ray