“I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.” — Don McLean


    A couple of generations have sang along to the lyrics of American Pie, but few may realize that the lyrics are actually talking about Buddy Holly — an American rock icon.
    Holly, a Texas native, began his career playing bluegrass, but after seeing an Elivs Presley show in 1955, he turned his attention to rock ‘n roll. And he never looked back.
    In the time span of 18 months, Holly became one of the most influential musicians on the rock ’n roll landscape. His life was cut short when a plane he was traveling in crashed in 1959 — the day the music died.
The Cape Fear Regional Theatre is celebrating the life of Buddy Holly in its river show — Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, playing at Campbellton Landing May 9-25.
    {mosimage}“Buddy died when he was just 22,” said Bo Thorp, the CFRT’s artistic director. “It is so interesting to look at a man who rose that much fame in just three years. He was a ‘my way’ kind of guy. Radio wanted him to play country, but he wanted to play rock ‘n roll – so that’s what he did.”
    Thorp said the production is a lot like a big rock concert. She said that the music, which is used to tell the story, is the music that many people grew up with. “There’s not a song that’s going to be performed that people are not going to know,” she said. “It’s the fabric of a lot of people’s lives.”
    For Baxter Clement, a professional actor and musician who resides in Southern Pines and has the starring role, Buddy Holly’s life is the ultimate rock ‘n roll story. “Elvis came before Buddy, but they were all part of the same thing,” said Clement, who knows a little about rock ‘n roll having been a guitarist in a few bands, and having toured extensively. “It’s remarkable that he had 20 number one hits in that short span of time,” he said. “He broke a lot of barriers down — including racial ones. I’ very glad to be a part of telling the story.”
    Performing in the river show is a first for Clement, who has spent much of his career on Broadway. He noted that he was told up front to bring his allergy medicines, but he’s looking forward to the experience. Clement said that any time you are on stage, you are compelled to give your best. “The excitement that comes from performing, whether it is for 4,000 people a night on Broadway or 400 people at the river show, generates the same energy,” he said.
    For 71st High School drama teacher Mike Jones the river show is also a first; however, he has performed several times at the CFRT. Jones will be play “The Big Bopper” Richardson, who toured with and was killed in the same plane crash as Holly. Jones said the show is “coming together and it’s going to be great.” He likened the relationship between Holly, Richardson and Ritchie Valens to that which has developed between the performers at the CFRT.             “The relationship between the character is very touching,” he said, explaining that he and the cast were forming close working relationships as well.
    He likens the play to a rock ‘n roll festival. “Their deaths were such a touching and traumatic thing,” he said. People loved them then, and they still love them today. They love their music.”
    If you want to take part in this musical extravaganza, you can purchase tickets to dinner, which begins at 7:30 p.m. or tickets for the show only which starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets Range in price from $14 to $27. The show opens on Friday, May 9 and runs Thursday — Sunday through May 25. For more information, call 323-4233.

    Contact Janice Burton at: editor@upandcomingweekly.com 

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