What’s the difference between Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly? Ask Clark Kent, actor Zachary Stevenson jokes.
Throw on a pair of horn-rimmed glasses and place a guitar in his hand and the rockabilly pioneers are one in the same to the average person’s memory, he claims.
“It’s almost like Superman. You put on the glasses, nobody will recognize you,” Stevenson said.
From that point, nailing his character is about hitting the body language and personal foibles that make Holly real and Stevenson has a bit of a personal interest in understanding these sorts of details.
Dubbed the “dead ringer for dead singers” by reporters, he’s played Presley and Hank Williams, worked on Back to You, the story of Canadian country singer Lucille Starr, and walked in Jerry Lee Lewis’s shoes.
This month, he tours the province as Buddy Holly in the biggest Arts Club Theatre production of the year, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Show, which promises to be a major production.
Seen by over 20 million people, the musical was written by Alan Janes, who received a nomination for an Olivier Award for Best Musical for the work.
Naturally, the production tells the full story of Charles Hardin Holley’s life, a Lubbock, Tex., country singer who went to an Elvis concert and caught a bug for rock-and-roll like no other. But for those worried it might be a bit of a downer—Holly died in a plane crash, after all—Stevenson says he absolutely promises the audience walks away with more of an uplifting feeling.
Stevenson caught the bug for acting and singing young and never really gave up on either craft. While he earned a theatre degree, locals may also recognize him from his work with his band, Human Statues.
The band is basically a songwriting partnership between Stevenson and friend Jeff Bryant and has been through Kelowna playing venues like Habitat.
The pair will set out on tour with The Good Lovelies, of Toronto, once this 44-show, B.C.-wide Holly adventure is through; although Stevenson’s head is still very much in Holly’s life story at the moment.
Stevenson says his favourite part of the musical is probably the Appollo scene.
Booked to play New York’s historic Apollo Theatre with his band, The Crickets, Holly literally rocked the nation by winning over the all-black audience—they were the only white band touring black theatres in the U.S. at the time and it was a very tough sell.
“They eventually won the audience over because the music was so infectious,” said Stevenson, noting the line-up includes popular hits like Peggy Sue, Not Fade Away, Oh Boy! and Words Of Love.
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story shows Nov. 10 at the Kelowna Community Theatre. Tickets are available by calling 1-877-299-1644.