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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Life + Arts

Young performers rock the Buddy Holly story

The intimate sense of community fostered by theatre groups like Upstage Theatre deepens with The Buddy Holly Story.

Two 19-year-olds, Stephen Krosecz and Christina Gibson exhibited rare talent and promise that did not disappoint the crowd at Lambert Hall on Heights Blvd.

Krosecz, a Cy-Woods High graduate brings a commanding presence to the role of rock-and-roll legend Buddy Holly. He defies orders by a Nashville producer to not wear glasses while performing and in fact, trades in his thinner frames for what soon became the bolder Holly signature. He brings great depth and vibrance in the role of the entertainer who was gone all too soon at age 22.

Gibson’s voice has the timber of a young Jennifer Hudson. She is a sophomore studying music at Houston Baptist University and she began her singing career at St. Pius X. Her iridescent midnight costumes for the trio performing at the Apollo theatre are also beautiful.

Brian Chambers (Ritchie Vallens and drummer Jerry Allison) and Todd Greenfield (Crickets’ bass player Joe B. Mauldlin) put in terrific performances as the Crickets. Their strong rhythm acoustic and slap bass had the audience rocking.

In a scene at Holly’s last concert at The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, Chambers portrays Vallens, who also died the next morning in a plane crash with Holly and the Big Bopper, J.P. Richardson.

Norris Thompson is also a standout as the lead entertainer at The Apollo, where Holly performed in 1957. Sonia Kronberg, of the Kronberg Flags and Flagpoles, nails the role of Vi, Norm Petty’s talented wife. Kronberg’s husband, Ron, is a UH School of Architecture alumni and Kronberg is a life member of UH Alumni.

The props were realistic, thanks to Oleta Porter and the Doc Porter Museum of Telephone History and Kat’s Guitars. Many of the musicians in Upstage are UH alumni, bass player Tom Mann has three degrees from UH and trombonist Joe Slusser is also a UH grad.

“Buddy, the Buddy Holly Story” written by Alan Janes and directed by Arnold Richie and Sean K. Thompson plays through July 30. For tickets, visit www.upstagetheatre.org.

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