Where were you when Buddy Holly died?
I was sitting in the last row of the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre (ASGT) last Friday night. The lights dimmed and a narrator described the tragic crash of the plane carrying Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Ritchie Valens in February 1959. The actors — Daniel Jackson, Sam Huston and Kelston Thomas respectively — playing the late musicians solemnly filed down the center aisle and out of the theater. Then, they reappeared on stage moments later with the rest of the cast to a crowd who went wild with applause.
Watching the show, "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story," in the outdoor theater makes the audience feel like they're seeing a 1950s concert. Jackson did a fantastic job bringing Holly back to life, in both action and appearance. Part of the credit for his clone-like look was due to work of the staff at Jeanie's Salon and Day Spa on West Street.
Salon owner Jeanie Chaney embraced the opportunity to recreate the 1950s hairdos for all of the actors. This meant transforming Jackson's bone-straight locks into corkscrew curls.
"The most challenging one was Daniel [Jackson] himself with the perm," says Chaney. "But it wasn't challenging for us — we've been here for 14 years, so we know what we're doing."
The other actors were given cuts and plenty of gel to get them through the month of shows that started Aug. 5 and run through Sept. 5.
"It was an honor to do it," says Chaney. "The best part was the gratification – it was fun, great to give [back to the community] and the show was fabulous."
Jackson is making his debut both at the ASGT and in Maryland, travelling from his hometown of Birmingham, Ala., to play the role of Buddy. Other outstanding performers included Huston as The Big Bopper, Travis Hurley as Norman Petty and Christina Carlucci as Maria Elena.
The show is a rendition of what seems to be every one of Holly's songs, strung together through the performance of his life narrative. The show traces Holly's beginnings on KDAV radio station in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas, to his rapid rise to fame with The Crickets. ASGT brings to life the events that led to this musical pioneer's infamy, all by the age of 22. The audience of 200 people screamed, whistled and eventually rose to its feet with fervor. The actors performed an encore song, a bonus reserved only for enthusiastic audiences.
If audience members are enraptured enough with Buddy, they can enter a $5 raffle for a chance to take home Buddy's guitar, a Squier Classic Vib Stratocaster 50s. Proceeds go to ASGT's building renovation project.
"Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" is the third production this summer in the ASGT's 44th season. An evening at ASGT is time well spent with a lively cast that truly brings to life the story and songs leading up to "The Day the Music Died."
Online tickets for all remaining performances are sold out. To inquire about available tickets, please contact the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre at 410-268-9212.