JPAS honors Buddy Holly at Columbia Theatre

The Jefferson Performing Arts Society (JPAS) graced the stage of the Columbia Theatre once again last week with a performance of “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.”
The Hammond community responded well to the lighthearted take on the life and music of the late, great Buddy Holly, who tragically died in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959. Holly was only 22.
“The show was outstanding,” said interim director of the Columbia Theatre Roy C. Blackwood. “It was real high energy, and the music certainly was an awful lot of fun.”
The first act detailed Holly’s budding rock and roll career in Lubbock, Texas. When he was eighteen, he opened for Elvis Presley in 1955. Holly was influenced by Presley, but his manager Hi-Pockets Duncan did not like the rock and roll Holly wanted to play on the air. Duncan was trying to market his radio station as only country music. Holly took his band to Clovis, N.M. to record with Norman Petty. There, Petty charged the band by the song instead of the hour, and he supported Holly’s musical view.
Once Buddy Holly and the Crickets gained fame, drinking and partying drove a wedge between Holly and his bandmates. Holly had a new wife with a child on the way and going on the ‘Winter Dance Party Tour’ with Ritchie Valens and J.P. ‘The Big Bopper’ Richardson was the only way for him to escape bankruptcy. The second act was a memorialization of Holly.
Actor Travis Poelle “did a real great job at portraying Buddy Holly,” Blackwood said. His resume includes performances with the Pacific Repertory Theatre in Carmel, Calif. and Foothills Theatre in Worchester, Mass. He also played the part of Buddy Holly in the same play for the Post Street Theatre in San Francisco, Calif., which won him the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for best male principle performance. John “Spud” Mcconnell, a veteran JPAS actor, played the part of Richardson and Peter Elliot, also a JPAS veteran, played Valens.
The show closed with Buddy Holly and the Crickets playing in Clear Lake, Iowa for their last show together as a band. Poelle played many of Holly’s hits including “That’ll Be The Day,” “Peggy Sue” and “Oh, Boy.”
Poelle’s ability to act, sing and play guitar had the audience on their feet dancing the night away.
“The audience seemed to love it, and all the comments were real positive,” Blackwood said. “People went out, they were singing, they were whistling to the music, they were having a good time and laughing. People were out dancing in the aisles, too. It was a very high quality performance.”
Blackwood also announced at the show that the Tangipahoa Tourism department has donated $100,000 to the Columbia Theatre.  When he got the call Blackwood said, “I just couldn’t believe it. It was just amazing.”
This will mean more wiggle room for finding new world class entertainment acts, and it gives the Columbia a chance to revamp their marketing scheme.
“This donation will give us that extra push in marketing,” Blackwood said. “It also gives us space to do some new things in benefit of the community.”