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Monday, November 20 Entertainment

‘Buddy Holly Story,’ with Md. actor in lead, visits the Shubert in New Haven for 3 shows

“Buddy — The Buddy Holly Story” began in London in 1989 and has played around the world, earning kudos as one of most successful rock ’n’ roll musicals ever. Even though Michael Perrie Jr. played Holly for 50 performances early last year, the newest touring show coming to the Shubert Theatre in New Haven has Perrie freshly informed about his subject.

On a break from rehearsals last week in San Angelo, Texas, Perrie and castmates visited the Buddy Holly Museum in Lubbock, Texas, long after Perrie had done his original research on Holly.

“It was so cool to be in his hometown and go to the museum, go out to his house and go to Buddy Holly Avenue, and the KDAV radio station that he started out on,” he said in a phone interview.

Not that Perrie, who is from Baltimore and newly married, didn’t have an emotional connection to the show in the first place.

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Shubert Theatre, 247 College St., New Haven. Friday, Nov. 17, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 18, 2 and 8 p.m. $76-$16. 203-562-5666, www.shubert.com

“One of the things I sent (to the producers in 2016) when I was auditioning was that ‘This show was the show that made me get interested in theater in the first place.’ My cousin and my uncle were in it back when I was 8 years old and I saw a regional production of it. ... I was like ‘I want to learn how to play guitar. I want to get onstage. I want to pretend to be somebody else.’ ”

Perrie, who writes humorous plays and streaming shows, appreciates the writing of the two-act Alan Janes musical.

“It’s amazing how much the trip to Lubbock highlighted this, (but) seeing some of the things Buddy owned and seeing some of the quotes that people had said about Buddy ... there are instances and lines in this show that a lot of the actors and I didn’t connect (with). ... And it turns out they pulled a lot of real things (that were said) and have some of the characters squeeze them in.”

The show features the classic songs, “That’ll Be The Day,” “Not Fade Away,” “Oh Boy,” Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba,” The Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace” and more.

Reactions to the jukebox musical — this version will tour through spring — often include surprise that it is so entertaining in its music and story. Holly, of course, made his mark in the l950s and died in 1959.

“I think the power of ‘Buddy Holly’ and why it connects so fully with audiences, especially in this theatrical format, is because it is so much more than just a concert. It’s a show, a musical. ... You need the story. That’s the power of Buddy Holly himself as a person. His drive, his passion, and that’s what launched him so quickly into the national spotlight.”

Holly was a force at a young age in pushing for his songwriting, a rocking sound, arrangements and production — not to mention the surprise of a tall, thin, bespectacled white guy playing this kind of music. The show, Perrie points out, furthers that understanding.

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Though Holly met an unfortunate fate, there are comedic moments in “Buddy.” “These awkward moments for a young man trying to do something that was unheard-of in the time period and trying to be really confident about it,” Perrie said.

Jamarante@nhregister.com; Twitter: @Joeammo

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