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For the Inverness opening show of BUDDY: The Buddy Holly Story – on the anniversary of the singer’s death in a plane crash – the cast have a special moment planned

By Margaret Chrystall

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LAST year the hit West End show Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story reached its 30th anniversary, but on Monday when the show opens in Inverness, it marks another landmark date.

The show opens at Eden Court on February 3 – the same date in 1959 that rock n roll legend Buddy Holly got on a plane and never returned.

The day is documented in song American Pie by Don McLean about the impact the loss of Buddy and musicians Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper had ‘the day the music died’.

It is actor and musician Christopher Weeks who points out the significance of the date of the show’s opening in Inverness.

“It is the anniversary of the plane crash – February 3.

“It will be a big night for us,” said Christopher. “And I won’t give away any spoilers, but we’re doing a little something extra on the evening of the show as it is a special night.

“It will be very exciting and a bit strange, but we have got a rehearsal for it in a little while, so I’m looking forward to doing something a little bit different.

“It’s such a special date for all of us.”

Christopher joined the revived production of the show in August and since then he has been alternating the Buddy role with actor AJ Jenks.

It is a good way of managing the testing role which demands massive energy for both telling the story of Buddy’s short but meteoric rise as a music star to the final legendary performance at the Surf Ballroom at Clear Lake, Iowa – which is relayed by an extended rock n roll set that ends the show with the whole cast performing a set of Buddy Holly and rock n roll songs.

Christopher said: “This is a slightly updated version because the show has been going for a long time.

“It has been in the West End for years and touring and it has also been on Broadway and on tour in the US, but not in the UK for a couple of years. Now it’s back!”

Expect to hear some of the many classic songs written by the talented Holly, including That’ll Be The Day, Oh Boy, Rave On, Raining In My Heart, Everyday and Peggy Sue Got Married. And Chantilly Lace and La Bamba are included to recognise the lost talents of the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens too.

Christopher, who started out with a career in music, added a classic actor’s training at 24. And now he appears in musical theatre shows – he toured in Cilla, the story of 60s pop star Cilla Black before Buddy – but still also works in tribute band The Big Three when he gets the chance.

“I started my training as a classical actor, of all things, quite late. Before that I was working as a musician and a singer in various different genres and I was doing the usual sort of thing, hotels and cruises and going around the world and enjoying myself!

“But as you get older you want to put down your roots. And I’ve got my wife and child – they are with me at the moment and come with me when they can. My wife is a primary teacher, so they join me for the holidays”.

Christopher has had Buddy: The Buddy Holly Show in his life a lot longer than you might expect – he explains why.

“I actually came to the show before I came across Buddy Holly the man, funnily enough – which is maybe a bit more unusual.

“I saw the Holly show at my local theatre.

“My dad had gone to see the matinee and came back and said to me ‘My God, you’ve got to come and see this!’.

“So we went and saw it in the evening.

“This was when I was just six or seven!

“So it was a late night out for a start!” laughed Christoper. “But I thought it was absolutely unbelievable and that the music was great.

“I didn’t know any of the music at the time, but the energy and the rock n roll feel of it really got to me at that age.

“So I just listened to the cast recording before I got into the music of Buddy himself. Then I found it for myself. But I started with the show!”

Like most of the cast, Christopher explained, he is genuinely a massive Buddy Holly fan and has certain songs he looks forward to performing.

“Even if I’m having a bad day, I’ve got that bit to look forward to in the show. I always love Peggy Sue Got Married and I love Rave On. When we get to that at the very end of the show, goodness me, that is the real adrenaline moment.

“We ask if the audience want to rock n roll for one last time.

“There is a big old cheer, and we go straight into it – and it’s wonderful!”

n Buddy: The Buddy Holly Show is at Eden Court, Inverness, from Monday, February 3 to Saturday, February 8 with two shows on Friday and, as well as Saturday’s evening show, there is a matinee.

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