Alhambra After Dark: Buddy Holly & The Crickets Tribute

A Dual Critics Review

April 2, 2018

The Alhambra Theatre & Dining has been rocking March 28 — April 1, 2018, with “That’ll Be The Day — A Tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets” with Todd Meredith and The Rave-Ons.

The production was a two-hour journey down a memory lane packed with over thirty songs that rocked the music world in the fifties and sixties, mixed with surprises along the way.

These fantastic performers dressed in conservative suits, with white shirts and the skinny neckties that were so snazzy in bygone days. Their exuberant rendering of Buddy’s great songs soon had the audience members tapping their toes to match.

Mr. Todd Meredith was superb as Buddy Holly: looked like him, sounded like him, sang like him. Regulars may recall his appearance on the Alhambra’s stage in 2012 in the musical “Buddy — The Buddy Holly Story.” During the past ten years, he has starred in nineteen productions of the musical.

The Rave-Ons, Matt Watson (Drums), Jeremy Renner (Guitar), and Jacob Callis (Upright & Electric Bass) also have impressive resumes. They added to the show’s excitement with meticulously worked out performances and boundless energy; relentless razzle-dazzle infused the show every minute they were on stage.

Between numbers, Meredith gave us an interesting history of Holly’s evolution as an artist, and we learned things that we didn’t recall from seeing past productions. He pointed out that the musical implied that Buddy’s parents were opposed to his pursuing a musical career, but his mother actually encouraged his choice. And did you know he wrote most of his songs with just four cords? Holly’s music inspired many musical artists, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan.

The audience was awed by Jacob Callis’ unusual method of — at times — playing the upright bass upside down and while standing on it. You had to see his approach to fully appreciate it. Additionally, we were impressed by the solos of guitarist Jeremy Renner, and the creative contributions of drummer Matt Watson.

The audience sang along with many of the favorites, which included “Peggy Sue,” “Everyday,” and ”That’ll Be The Day,” some of his greatest hits. We enjoyed hearing once again the old Elvis number “That’s Alright Mama” and “American Pie” by songwriter Don McLean. After the show, all the performers came to the lobby to talk with fans and pose for photos.

The Alhambra After Dark Music Series & Supper Club is presented between regular shows on the main stage. The theatre is bringing back “Rocky Mountain High — a Tribute to John Denver” for two nights only: May 14 – 15, 2018. The show has played here previously, and Ted Vigil as John Denver is returning by popular demand. “The Everly Brothers Experience,” featuring the ZMed Brothers, is scheduled for June 4 – 5.

Tickets for both shows are $65.00 which includes parking, dinner, and the show. And they’re going fast; call 641-1212 or visit alhambrajax.com for reservations. The theater is located at 12000 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville Florida 32246.

Jacksonville’s entertainment choices are growing in leaps and bounds, especially for those who enjoy concerts, and you can choose indoor or outdoor locations. We have been to all of them in the past, and our personal favorite is the Alhambra After Dark. Free parking is just outside the theater. The ticket price is often less than other road shows, and includes an excellent gourmet meal. And in all the tribute shows we’ve seen, we were able to meet the musicians and performers afterward.

The menu changes with each production; for this last show, Chef DeJuan’sfirst course choices were Waldorf Salad and Roasted Onion and Brie Soup; both outstanding. Second course choices were Fried Triggerfish, Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Chicken, and a vegetarian Eggplant Parmigianino, and for dessert we had classic Key Lime Pie.

Of note, coming up on the regular schedule from April 4 – May 6 is “Five Guys Named Moe,” a Tony nominee for Best Musical. The Alhambra is located at 12000 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville Florida 32246.

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