Van Zeiler and Victoria Stilwell have the leads in Buddy...The Buddy Holly Story, which will ring up its Los Angeles premiere Feb. 2, 2000, at the Pantages Theatre, presented by Broadway L.A. The two-week run is through Feb. 13.
The Los Angeles engagement takes place 41 years after "the day music died" when Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, The Big Bopper and Dion appeared in concert at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa...and died in a plane crash later that night.
Buddy has previously played to packed houses on Broadway, Australia, Toronto and San Francisco. The London production continues its lengthy run in the West End, where it was nominated for an Olivier Award. The national company of the hit musical kicked off its tour Dec. 7, 1999 in Boston. Los Angeles is the tour's second stop.
Buddy recounts the life and times of the legendary rocker Buddy Holly, who went from singing country music in Lubbock, Texas, to belting out r & b as the first white singer at Harlem's Apollo Theatre. Van Zeiler delivers such famous Buddy Holly songs as "Peggy Sue," "Rave On," "Not Fade Away," "Rainin' In My Heart" and "True Love Ways."
Stilwell, whom Zeiler met on the set during a London staging of the show and then married in real life, plays Holly's wife, Maria Elena. Rock 'n' roll greats Richie Valens and The Big Bopper are also impersonated in the show, performing their hits "La Bamba" and "Chantilly Lace."The Rock Encyclopedia has this to say about Buddy Holly: "He was one of the giants of early rock, a figure so important in the history of popular music that it is impossible to hear a song on the charts today that does not owe something to the tall, slim, bespectacled boy from Texas...More than any other singer of that era, he brings back a time when music was fun."
Pantages Theatre is located at 6233 Hollywood Blvd. For tickets and information call Ticketmaster or (213) 365-3500. Beginning Sun. Jan. 9, tickets will be available for purchase at the Pantages box office.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent