Rocking musical follows Buddy Holly's life and career
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 4:32 p.m.
Ooh-wee-ooh, he looks just like Buddy Holly. And he sings like him too.
'Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story'
What: National tour production of musical about the rock singer
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road, Gainesville
Tickets: $45-$65, $20 for UF students
Info: 392-2787, Ticketmaster.com
His name is Todd Meredith, and he is portraying the bespectacled music legend for the 14th time in, “Buddy — The Buddy Holly Story,” which comes to the Phillips Center in Gainesville on Wednesday.
“I actually didn't know a lot about Buddy Holly when I first took on the role in 2007,” Meredith says. “I was a big fan of '60s music, big fan of the Beatles, and when I was offered the role, I knew his big hits, but I had no idea how much he had influenced those bands that I loved. As soon as I learned that, I just started falling in love with his music, just to get back to the roots of all the music I really loved. It was so fun for me, I just wanted to do it as much as possible.”
Meredith says that he keeps coming back to the role because his love for the music remains strong.
“It's the type of music that I'm never going to stop enjoying,” he says. “I've never gotten tired of it even though I've been doing it for so long. We still have a blast on stage.”
In fact, Meredith loves Holly's music so much that he plays it in a cover band called the Rave-Ons in his own time.
“As an actor, I still really enjoy doing the scenes, but I was thinking it was a great opportunity to start a band and keep the music going that way,” he says.
One of Meredith's favorite parts about performing in the musical is watching the love for Buddy Holly translate down through generations.
“It's really cool when these people who were teenagers when Buddy Holly was around bring their grandchildren, and you see their faces light up and see them fall in love with the music,” he says. “That's probably my favorite part, when I get a kid who comes up to me after the show and says he's a Buddy Holly fan now.”
The musical follows Holly's life and career, both of which were cut tragically short by a plane crash in 1959. Meredith says that the show deals with Holly's untimely death, but it tries to keep the focus on his music and legacy.
“It's a lot like going to see the movie 'Titanic' or something — you know the ship is going to sink in the end,” he says. “There's a lot of foreshadowing in the second half. I think the show does a good job of building that, and then we hit the final concert, and it's so much fun and everyone forgets about it. But then, each time we have that moment when they announce that Buddy has passed away, I still get a little choked up.”
Meredith actually finds hope in Holly's passing.
“I always look at it as, it's almost as if he knew he wasn't long for this Earth,” he says. “He was so determined to get so much done in such a short time. He's a big influence on me when I'm feeling lazy. I think, 'He wouldn't be sitting around doing nothing right now. He'd be trying to get things done.'”
Even though he has performed in the musical so many times, Meredith still relishes the chance to portray one of his heroes, and he is always trying to perfect that portrayal.
“I do try to get as close as possible to him without making it be an impersonation,” he says. “I don't want it to look like some Elvis impersonator in Vegas. I don't want my Buddy Holly portrayal to be anything like that. I try to put a lot of myself into the role, but at the same time, I did a lot of research into the way he talked, the way he sang.”
And, he clearly takes pride in the results.
“We really take Buddy's music to another level,” he says.