By: Ronnie Ruff
Podcast interview By: Joel Markowitz
Buddy ~ Toby’s Dinner Theatre
Columbia is not that far! Really! Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia is currently offering Buddy, the most successful rock musical of all time and an absolute blast for anyone that is able to attend. I recently took in this show and I can say with certainty that it is a show anyone that likes early rock n roll will just love. Set aside the nice buffet dinner, attentive service and tasty cocktails — Toby’s has a history of award winning shows and superb talent.
The story of Buddy Holly, one of the early icons of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and his short career that ended in tragedy when his small plane crashed in 1959 is well known. Most folks know that also dying in the crash were Ritchie Valens and Jape Richardson (The Big Bopper). Holly had six top forty hits in a short, less than two year run. Although he did not want to be a country singer one can hear bits of todays ALT Country genre in many of his songs. Many modern day bands owe much to Holly’s jangly guitar pop. Great tunes like “Peggy Sue”, “That’ll Be The Day” and some songs from his show mates like “La Bamba” and “Chantilly Lace” are the highlights of this show that tends to be more of a concert than a true musical. The show had a record setting run in London and a fair showing on Broadway.
The show shines at Toby’s, not only is the show enjoyable and exciting, it adds something one does not hear often in theatre. Raw rock ‘n’ roll power, from the instant Buddy breaks a string near the end of the second act this show kicked into overdrive. Maybe Toby should have the young Matthew Schleigh (Holly) break a string for every show! Music Director Douglas Lawler’s band is tight and rockin’, letting loose in a final set that aims to bring us back to that sad night “the music died” with a simulation of the last concert Buddy performed before the crash. Glen Hitaffer (Ritchie Valens) adds some savvy guitar riffs and Shawn Kettering (The Big Bopper) does a great job with “Chantilly Lace” in that last set. The only weak moments were the recording sessions simulated in the first act that used small clips of Holly material — they seemed forced and flat, something that never happens the rest of the show.
The costumes and staging were great, Toby uses every bit of the space to full advantage and by the end of the show the place is flashing like something out of Las Vegas. Special mentions for not hamming up the costumes to look like something out of Happy Days — Texas in the 50s was more western than country and I found the costumes to be very pleasing. The radio station DJs booth was well designed and implemented.
Joel and Toby opening night!
If you like great music and a fine dinner with your theatre then Buddy at Toby’s is a show you must see. This show and dinner are really worth double what Toby charges. A real bargain is what it is. So load up the SUV and get on 29 North to see Buddy. Next up for DCTR and Toby’s — Footloose!