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Crowd pleasers

TRR photo by Jonathan Fox Goo Goo Dolls lead vocalist John Rzeznik rocks the house at Bethel Woods.

August 4, 2011

As much as I love doling out my opinion on the various events happening throughout the Hudson Valley, there are times (believe it or not) that I look to the audience for inspiration. This past week offered a perfect opportunity to keep my mouth shut (yes, it’s possible) and tune in to conversations heard ‘round every corner. I managed to get my two cents in from time to time, but felt it prudent to hear what others had to say.

The Forestburgh Playhouse (www.FBplayhouse.org) is currently presenting Alan Jones’ “The Buddy Holly Story,” a musical tribute to the late, great country-turned-Doo Wop master of all things “Peggy Sue.” The show is packed with tidbits about Holly’s life, his meteoric rise in the music scene of the late 1950s and his untimely death just as his star was reaching a zenith that few performers experience in an entire lifetime.

Musician/actor Todd Meredith embodies the spirit of Holly and croons his way into the hearts of the audience as the story unfolds. Performing more than 20 songs in Holly’s repertoire, Meredith is assisted by the glowing talent of Bill Morey (who works that bass into a frenzy) Kyle Axman and Jerry Allison, with excellent turns by supporting players Kevin Confoy, Galyana Castillo and Ariana Sepulveda. The first act left the packed house breathless with anticipation.

Eavesdropping was fun, but I couldn’t resist a few comments of my own. Hearing me wonder how the show would address Holly’s untimely death in 1959, a horrified ticket holder took me aside, saying that I had just “ruined the ending” for her. I explained that I thought it was understood how the story ends, since (not unlike “Titanic”) we took our seats knowing the ship would sink before the final curtain.

But the woman argued with me, insisting that J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson was very much alive and had not died in that fateful crash along with mega-star Richie Valens (portrayed with gyrating style by David Marmanillo). Not wanting to burst more bubbles, I admitted that I could be wrong (knowing full well that I was not) and promised not to give away any more plot points.

Now in his second season at the playhouse, Max Nussbaum (as the Bopper) embraced his role and rocked the house with a dead-on rendition of “Chantilly Lace,” lending even more credence to the perception that these guys are still alive. Their music has never died.