John Mueller belts out a little ditty as Buddy Holly
Written by Alan Janes. Directed by David Arisco. Musical direction by Tom Dillickrath. With John Mueller, Barry Tarallo, Dominic Mazzone, Michael Croiter, Kelly Briscoe, Jeremy Baker, Fabiano Trofino, Karen Nagy, Holly Jones, and Sharon Francis.
Through January 2. Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-444-9293.
In fact the Actors' Playhouse production is, as usual, topnotch, and artistic director David Arisco's staging is full of good ideas, even if his selection of material is lame. The show is punctuated by appearances by Hipockets Duncan, the Lubbock, Texas, radio DJ credited with discovering Holly, played here by the charismatic Barry Tarallo. Buddy unfolds on Gene Seyffer's two-tiered set, which features panels that open and close, providing spots for performers who sing period advertising jingles, as well as a parade of DJs from around the country who announce Holly's various climbs up the music charts.
With a large cast, including ten onstage musicians, the show boasts a number of smart acting turns. Although Jeremy Baker adequately fills the Big Bopper's shoes and gigantic leopard-skin blazer, Fabiano Trofino, who plays Ritchie Valens, really sizzles. (Here's hoping fate will intervene before he finds himself doing a Ricky Martin tribute show twenty years from now.) Kelly Briscoe, who plays Holly's wife, Maria Elena, as well as a handful of smaller bit roles, is fetching, as is Karen Nagy as Vi Petty, wife of Holly's first producer, Norman Petty. Holly Jones, who plays Iowa beauty queen Mary Lou Sokoloff, is also just fine. In addition to Mueller, the actors to whom we get most attached are Dominic Mazzone and Michael Croiter, who play Crickets Joe B. Mauldin and Jerry Allison respectively. It's difficult to diss a show that employs so many actors (and I haven't even mentioned the other two dozen), but it would be nice if each of them gets work in something with more substance in the new year.