1955. A short glimpse of a decade of baby boomers, poodle skirts, and the growing popularity of T.V. dinners and rock ‘n’ roll. At age 19, a young man is discovering his style of music and discovers a passion for rock ‘n’ roll after opening for Elvis Presley. His name is Buddy Holly.
Four years fly by as Holly rises to fame and produces 17 hit songs in 22 months, including “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be the Day.” At just 23 years of age, Holly is killed in a tragic plane crash, his flourishing career brought to an abrupt halt.
Though Holly was only able to spend four years in the spotlight, his music and career continue to influence rock ‘n’ roll music and people of all generations today, and his story is told through many different media.
“I had no idea how much his music affected people, especially that grew up in that generation, where he was way bigger than anyone we can think of now,” said theater teacher and actor Nicholas Freeman, who plays Buddy Holly in Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story, which opens at the History Theatre in Saint Paul. “[Holly] had this huge impact on people growing up when rock ‘n’ roll was just kind of changing and figuring out what it was, and people love his music.”
This year is Freeman’s fourth time in seven years being cast as Holly in the production at History Theater, each run of the play providing new opportunities to have meaningful experiences with audience members.
“I get people that come to the play that may have Alzheimer’s or physical disabilities that are in their 60s, 70s, 80s,” he said, “and after the show they stop and they shake my hand with tears in their eyes and they say ‘Thank you for bringing me back to that time.’ That’s why I love the show. Because it touches people, not just of that generation, but people of all generations.”
Holly’s story took place about half of a century ago, but his music still finds special places in the hearts of those alive today, whether old or young and in any life situations.
“I had a boy who came last year from Montana to have cancer treatment at the Children’s hospital, which is right down the road [from Minnehaha],” said Freeman. “His mom said that from the age of three, he loved Buddy Holly music.”
Freeman fondly remembered the young boy, who was about six years old when the two of them met.
“He came here to have cancer treatment, found out that we were doing The Buddy Holly Story, they took him out of the hospital to come see the show and he thought I was Buddy Holly. He had tears in his eyes, that he got to hug me and shake my hand. I gave him the glasses off my face and let him keep the glasses that I wore for that performance. His mom wrote me afterwards saying that truly lifted his spirits, and that’s a gift. If I’m able to share that with people then that’s my job. I believe that God gave me a gift for that reason.”
Meaningful and full of energetic rock ‘n’ roll music, The Buddy Holly Story has the ability to entertain audiences and also touch their hearts.
Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story will be running at History Theater from November 22-December 20 2015, with student ticket prices at $15.
Check out this link for a promo video of The Buddy Holly Story and interview with Mr. Freeman! https://vimeo.com/112537643