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My final curtain call with Buddy at the Belgrade
By Blast arts reporter Rala Kawas
I began my placement with a visit to the Belgrade Theatre, as a newbie and a tourist. I now end my placement with another visit to the Belgrade, wiser, stronger and more experienced. Just like the theatre itself.
Because I opened my placement eight weeks ago, with a visit to Coventry's famous Belgrade Theatre, you might find it odd that I close with one too.
However, the two visits could not have differed more from one another. You see, the first time I went to see the theatre was in July, when all the productions were taking a summer break and when the theatre got a chance to have some work done on it, to keep it up to date.
So I was shown around the skeleton and insides of the Belgrade Theatre, empty and quiet, but complete with tools and builders. I was impressed with the size of the theatre, its history and the effort that goes into maintaining it. But little did I know that I was largely missing out.
My second visit, involved experiencing what the theatre does best, seeing it in all its glory, providing entertainment to thousands of people.
The real Buddy Holly with the Crickets.
I went, on official BBC business of course, to see Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.
Official Press Business
So, in I went and asked for the press ticket that was booked for me by my old friend from my first visit, and press officer, Ray. Along with my ticket, I was immediately presented with a complimentary programme and cast list. Nobody has mentioned the perks of being press before!
Excited, I rushed into the main theatre, which was now, unlike in my first visit, ready and lit to perfection. As I settled in my seat, I looked around to find that I was the youngest one there and then it dawned on me that not only was I around thirty years younger than the rest of the audience, but that the theatre was in fact packed with people from Buddy's own generation! Real fans of the real buddy, people who may have seen him in person!
The lights dimmed and the curtain rose. This was it. This was the moment my first real Belgrade and Buddy experience began.
The musical opened with something I'd never seen used on stage in that way before. Instead of overcrowding the stage with a large and overdone set, part of the scene was displayed on a screen, in the background, in a silhouette form.
A Buddy with his Big Bopper
The lighting, sound and technical aspects of the production were as perfect as I've ever seen on stage. If something did go wrong, we didn't suspect a thing.
As the production progressed, I only found myself becoming more and more interested in the storyline, the music and the characters. As the story unfolds, the audience becomes very close to the characters, identifying with them and completely believing that they are real.
Many of the songs, I found that I actually knew, but was unaware that they were Buddy's! As the audience reminisced about their past (and danced!), I was astonished at the stamina of the actors to sing song after song brilliantly and whole-heartedly! And entirely live!
I was highly impressed with the multi-talented and diverse cast that although small in number, was massive in talent, enthusiasm and love for the music.
With a few surprises and gifts for the audience, we were pleasantly surprised that we were so much a part of the production. The characters got us involved and spoke to us as though we were attending one of Buddy's real shows.
Glen Joseph and myself
When the musical drew to a close, I left the grand theatre and all the way home, reflected on my experience.
The entire experience takes you to a whole different world, making nothing else matter for those few hours.
I advise everybody to book their tickets now! Buddy at the the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry is one not to be missed!
I was also lucky enough to meet Glen Joseph, actor playing Buddy a few days before I went to watch him. He was here at the office to go on Bob Brolly's show and I took the opportunity to meet him and find out that he is genuinely a cheerful and lovely man. So no excuses!
A Change of Experience
So my two experiences at the Belgrade, as you can see, were very different. This is partly because I was not quite the same in both of them.
The second time I visited, again, like the Belgrade, I felt stronger, more sure of myself and ready to take on the largest and most difficult challenges that I encounter.
So we both, the Belgrade Theatre and I, spent the summer growing, learning and gaining experience, myself through the BBC and the Theatre through the commitment of its admirers.
Finally, to sum up and prove the impact my amazing experience at the Belgrade Theatre watching Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story had on me, I woke up somewhere between 3 and 4 this morning from a dream of J.P 'The Big Bopper' Richardson doing his brilliant jazzy laugh. And although I was a little scared, he's still my favourite character!
last updated: 11/09/2008 at 14:08
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caroline mwangi & paul hyde