Brian Lambert didn’t have to work too hard on the music in Denton Community Theatre’s Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.
“Buddy Holly is in my wheelhouse,” the Denton indie rocker said over tacos. “I’ve been doing the rock ’n’ roll thing for a while now. In my earlier days, I was a punk rock guy, so hey, strumming those chords, playing that rhythm guitar really fast, that was what I did. And if you listen to Buddy Holly, there is a hint of that going on.”
Now the acting? Lambert, the frontman of Denton band My Kickdrum Heart, said acting didn’t come as easily as assuming the music of an American rock ’n’ roll icon.
“Yeah, I’m still working on that,” Lambert said.
Directed by Aileen Stark and Bonnie McCormick, Buddy is the company’s annual Encore show. Encore is typically a no-frills ensemble show leaning on beloved Broadway music, staged as a gala fundraiser.
Buddy is more of a full production.
Lambert was tapped for the role by company volunteer Polly Maynard, a Denton classical and indie musician.
“My daughters go to Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, and Herb Newton [a Denton Community Theatre volunteer] told me about the show,” Lambert said. “He said they’d been talking about doing the show, and Polly said, ‘I just so happen to know a rock ’n’ roll guitarist who can sing this.’”
Lambert accepted the invitation, and joined a cast from the local theater scene and Denton’s music scene. Bassist Drew Phelps plays a member of Holly’s band, the Crickets, with Trent Reeves and Dave Randolph. Theater veteran Johnny Williams plays Hipockets Duncan, and actors Bryan Patrick and Jaime Nunez Rodriguez play the roles of the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, Holly’s contemporaries.
Lambert said he’s been a fan of Holly for years, but researched the icon in preparation for the role. He appreciates the musician anew.
“He was a boy from Lubbock who married a Puerto Rican woman back when things were still pretty segregated [racially],” Lambert said. “He was so prolific, too. He wrote a lot of music. I’m a lot like him in that I’ve never been able to write the same music, the same style or about the same ideas. I can relate to this guy. ‘Peggy Sue’ didn’t sound like ‘Everyday.’ And ‘Everyday’ didn’t sound like ‘Raining in My Heart.’”
Buddy keeps Lambert on stage through the entire show. Out of 18 numbers, Lambert leads 15. He said he had to get used to putting down the guitar on the few songs he doesn’t accompany himself.
“I’m working on delivery,” he said. “And it’s kind of funny, too. Someone told me I did a good job of Buddy’s gawky dancing. I didn’t try to do any gawky dancing, but I guess being a tall skinny guy kind of helped out that way.”
Lambert said he’s felt lucky to share the stage with Phelps, a well-known upright bassist, and that he plans to work with Randolph, whom he met when rehearsals began. He praised the directorial team and the established actors who play Holly’s fellow rock icons.
“I’m up there with horn players and backup singers, male and female, and that’s pretty cool. All those folks are pros,” he said. “I’m up there having a blast, pretty much.”
Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Campus Theatre, 214 W. Hickory St.
Tickets cost $20 each. To purchase tickets, visit http://bit.ly/1v7sy7k or call 940-382-1915. For more information, visit www.dentoncommunitytheatre.com.
The company presents the musical with sponsor Kwik Kar Lube and Auto Centers of Denton.