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Theatre West season opener, Buddy Holly celebrates Rock 'n Roll
June 03, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen Director James Alexander Bond (left) and Technical Director and Scenic Designer Justin Lane examine one of the set pieces being built for the upcoming summer season at Theatre West.

Candy makers and Rock ‘n Roll legends come alive this summer as Theatre West rolls out its 2016 season with two musicals for the entire family.

The summer repertory season opens June 9 with “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.” Director James Alexander Bond called it a “juke box musical” that showcases the music of the rock n’ roll legend whose meteoric rise to fame lasted only about 18 months.

“The musical shows just how much Buddy Holly changed music in so short a time,” Bond said. “It was just the tip of the iceberg before his unfortunate death. Had he not died, he could have done more to change contemporary music more than anyone before him.”

Starting with a small band named The Crickets in Lubbock, Texas, Buddy Holly rose quickly to music fame. The show covers his fight with the record industry and how the music establishment tried to hold him back.

Buddy Holly died in an early morning plane crash, along with fellow musicians Richie Valens and “The Big Bopper” J.P.

Richardson, on Feb. 3, 1959, just outside Mason City, Iowa. They had been part of the Winter Dance Party tour. Their last stop was at the Surf Ballroom in neighboring Storm Lake. The tragedy became known as “the day the music died.”

“This show celebrates Buddy Holly’s life and the music he left us,” Bond said. “It lets us wonder what we’d be listening to now if that plane hadn’t gone down.”

Theatre West is running two musicals this year, starting earlier with performances over three weeks instead of the usual two.

“Word of mouth gets out about a good show and by the time people want to go, the show has closed,” Bond said. “We’re extending that time frame to give more people the opportunity to see the shows.”

“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” will be performed June 9-12, June 15-18, and June 22-25 in the Little Theatre at Western Nebraska Community College.

On June 29-30 and July 1-2, the company will perform a musical theatre concert called “Broadway in the Summer.”

The music includes familiar songs from the Broadway musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber, productions like “Cats,” “Evita” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

Theatre West wraps up its season beginning July 14 with a musical of pure imagination: “Willie Wonka.”

“Several of the scenes in the stage version follow the book more closely,” Bond said, “It has just as much heart and is just as much fun. Even if you haven’t read the book or seen the movies, this is something you’ll thoroughly enjoy.”

“Willie Wonka” will be performed July 14-16, July 20-21, July 23-24, and July 27-30 in the Little Theatre at WNCC.

For individual shows, tickets are $45 for the family, $18 for adults, $17 for seniors, $9 for juniors and $8 for students. Season tickets are $100 for the family, $45 for adults, $42 for seniors, $24 for juniors and $15 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the summer box office at WNCC, by calling 308-635-6193, or online at theatrewestnebraska.com.
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