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PRESS: BUDDY HOLLY to Rock SA in 2023!

Pieter Toerien Productions


Pieter Toerien presents a brand-new, full-scale stage production of the HIT rock 'n roll jukebox musical, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, LIVE onstage at the Artscape Opera House, from 28 March to 16 April, and The Teatro at Montecasino from 21 April to 28 May.

Directed by internationally renowned English director and choreographer, Nick Winston (Bonnie and Clyde, Fame, Cats, Chess, We Will Rock You! and Annie), this truly unique tribute musical follows the incredible journey of Buddy's meteoric rise to the top of the record charts during the golden days of rock ‘n’ roll… BIGGER and BETTER than ever seen before on South African stages!

Original set and costume designs by Fleur du Cap winner, Niall Griffin (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Hedwig And The Angry Inch, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), and musical direction by Wessel Odendaal (The Phantom Of The Opera, Here’s To You - The Simon And Garfunkel Songbook, Avenue Q, The Sound Of Music).


Leading an all-South African cast is singer-songwriter Jethro Tait as the legendary singer, Buddy Holly. This dynamic young performer has the charm and musical skills to bring Buddy Holly to life, LIVE on stage.

The ensemble includes the best in South African talent: Bethany Dickson (Matilda – The Musical, Grease, The Sound Of Music) and Keaton Ditchfield (Evita, Saturday Night Fever, West Side Story), with Michael Stray, Chad Baai, Simone Neethling, Gianluca Gironi, Thoko Jiyane, Che-Jean Jupp, Gerard Van Rooyen, Koketso Mere, Gabriela Dos Santos, Vituous Kandemiri, Sindiswa Ndlovu, and Morgan Marshall.

Buddy Holly started as a country and western singer in Texas, and with his two friends, formed The Crickets. With the support of local radio D.J. Hipockets Duncan, Buddy Holly shot to stardom in 1957. He was the first white artist to ever perform at the “All Black” Apollo Theatre in New York. Buddy Holly died tragically in a plane crash, alongside Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper). It was a tragedy that shook the world, and as the legend says, “it was the day the music died”.

With classic songs such as "That'll Be The Day", "True Love Ways", "Oh Boy", "Peggy Sue", "Chantilly Lace", "La Bamba", “Rave On”, "Johnny B. Goode", “Everyday”, and many, many more - guaranteed to have audiences on their feet and dancing in the aisles!

“Every performance is a party!” – The Mail on Sun.

“Oh boy, BUDDY keeps rocking…a gem of a musical” – The Daily Express.

“Golden oldies pounded out the way they use to be.” – The New York Times.

“Remarkable… it’s a bona fide crowd-pleaser!” – Variety.

What’s It About? The action takes place in Lubbock, Texas, Clovis, New Mexico, New York and Clear Lake, Iowa, between January 1956 and February 1959.

With the support of local radio DJ, Hipockets Duncan, Buddy and his two friends form a Country & Western band - Buddy Holly & the Crickets - and begin to carve out a career in music. After a difficult start at Decca Records in Nashville, they sign a contract with up-and-coming, innovative record producer Norman Petty. Within hours, Buddy Holly & the Crickets start to churn out hits from the recording studio built in Norman’s backyard, among them ‘That'll Be The Day’, which will rocket up the charts to number one in a matter of weeks. Buddy Holly & the Crickets are suddenly the hottest act in the country and out on national tour.

Whilst recording in New York, Buddy proposes to Maria Elena Santiago, the Puerto Rican receptionist of his music publisher after a courtship of all of five hours! Newly married and ambitious, he shifts focus to New York and a rift develops between him and the Crickets. After a declaration of home truths during a recording session, the band split and Buddy unexpectedly finds himself having to pursue a solo career.

Buddy joins ‘The Winter Dance Party’ of 1959, a bus tour through the Midwest quenching the teenage thirst for the ‘new music called Rock ‘n’ Roll’. The tour is hard work; the weather conditions appalling and the performers are alternating between sleeping in the luggage racks and dropping into hospital to be treated for frostbite.

Our story ends on February 3rd, 1959, after a rocking concert with the ‘Big Bopper’ J.P. Richardson and Ritchie Valens at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Buddy makes the fateful decision to break his promise to his pregnant wife not to fly, as he and the other two headliners board a small plane and take off into the night destined for their next show. During a snow storm, in the dead of night, the plane crashes and spares no survivors.

The tragedy shocks the world, snatching the lives of three of the world’s most dynamic musical talents – Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. Buddy Holly’s brief life is immortalized in this dynamic and heart-rending stage show. It’s a celebration of the man, his music and life; that catches that unique mixture of innocence, determination, humor and charm that was Buddy Holly.

...and the rest will just be rock ‘n’ roll.

Running time: Approximately 2 hours and 25 minutes (including a 20-minute interval).

Age restriction: Suitable for ages 8+.

Cape Town, Artscape Dates: 28 March to 16 April, 2023.

Performances at the Artscape Opera House run from Tuesday to Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Sunday 16 April at 2pm and 6pm.

Tickets ranging from R150 to R500 are available through or the Theatre box office on (021) 438 3300/1.


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