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History Theatre Partners with McNally Smith College of Music to Produce Buddy

Buddy would approve. McNally Smith College of Music students and select faculty are joining the History Theater to produce a show that is part biography and part rock ‘n’ roll concert when the History Theater opens its 32nd season with Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story October 3 through November 1, 2009. The world famous play follows the bespectacled musician on this meteoric rise from a rebellious country singer to a rock ‘n’ roll icon and pioneer in the 1950s, ending with the unforgettable concert 50 years ago on February 3, 1959, with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper in Clear Lake, Iowa, at the legendary Surf Ballroom – the day the music died.

Buddy Holly (a.k.a. Charles Hardin Holley) was not only extremely talented, but relentless in his pursuit of his music. In a time when rock ‘n’ roll was demonized by many, Buddy stood his ground and hung on to his principles. In doing so, he rose to the top of the charts in less than two years! Holly’s brief life has become the stuff of legend. With Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story, writers Alan Janes and Rob Bettinson have created a celebration of that legend which catches the unique mixture of innocence, determination, humor, and charm that epitomized the emergence of rock ‘n’ roll into the American mainstream during the 1950s.

The History Theatre is thrilled to open its 32nd season with a first-ever artistic collaboration with McNally Smith College of Music and the St. Paul Conservatory of Performing Artists (SPCPA). Students of the leading music college know it well, sharing space with the theater every day. This rock ‘n’ roll musical provides the perfect opportunity for artists and students from all three organizations to explore the origins of the music and dance that we know and love today while celebrating the contributions of a remarkably talented artist who started to change the way America listened to music when he was only 20 years old.

By pooling the strengths of these three dynamic St. Paul arts organizations, the History Theatre will tell a story about an iconic American figure, while McNally Smith students will channel their study of contemporary music and the recording industry into a unique performance experience. And students in the dance and musical theater programs at SPCPA will bring the energy and youth of Buddy’s fans onto the stage while getting to work alongside professional artists in both the theatre and music industries.

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story was originally produced at the Plymouth Theatre Royal, directed by Rob Bettinson who co-wrote the show with Alan Janes. The award-winning show enjoyed enormous success in London (where it ran for 18 years on the West End) and around the world. The production on the History Theatre’s stage is a first-ever artistic collaboration between the theatre and McNally Smith College of Music featuring artists and performers, professionals and students from both organizations.

Buddy is directed by Ron Peluso. The rockin’ show’s Music Director is Gary Rue, McNally Smith Composition faculty member. Since 1986, Rue served as the conductor and arranger in North America for one of Buddy Holly’s contemporaries, ’60’s pop star Gene Pitney. While on tour with Pitney, Rue enjoyed several concerts where Gene and the Crickets shared the bill.

The musical is choreographed by Jan Puffer, with scenic design by Justin Hooper and Ron Peluso. Costume design is by Lynn Farrington, lighting design by Chris Johnson, sound and video design by Mike Pledl, and properties design is by Crystal Schneider.  The play stars Nicholas Freeman as Buddy Holly; Josh Bourdon and Zach Spicer as The Crickets; Charles Fraser and Brittany Parker as Norman and Vi Petty; Nora Montanez as Maria Elena Holly; and features James Fairchild as The Big Bopper and Allen Malicsi as Ritchie Valens. The cast also includes Alyssa Divigili, Lynnea Monique Doublette, Munyaradzi Tirivepi, Brandon Petron, Ben Barna, Shana Berg, John Ensrud, David Hopkins-Hile, Shelby Alden, Shane Larson, Dominic Running, Ryan Spencer, and Camile Trocke-Fowler.

Saturday, October 3 at 6:00 pm, the Buddy Opening Night Fifties Bash promises to be big fun! Prior to the opening performance, guests are invited to mix and mingle in the McNally Smith café with music provided by Mick Sterling and his band, plus hors d’ouevres, wine, and beer. A program hosted by WCCO TV’s Don Shelby will include interviews with special guests including Peggy Sue (the song’s namesake, via teleconference) and two of the original Crickets, Sonny Curtis and Jerry Allison. Tickets to the big Bash and the performance of Buddy and range from $75 – $100 for Individuals, or $250 per couple at the Producer level.

Don’t miss it! For more information and regular show times and ticket prices, call the box office at 651.292.4323, or visit the History Theater’s website.

McNally Smith College of Music Students Josh, Brandon,  and Zach (The Crickets) along with Nichols Freeman (Buddy) recorded a half-hour show for MPR with Dale Connelly – to air Saturday, October 24th at 9pm.