After 10 Years, Billy Says Goodbye to Buddy

10 years ago, Omaha Community Playhouse Artistic Director Carl Beck and Music Director Jim Boggess sat in Dubs Pub (now the Waiting Room) in Benson and watched Billy McGuigan perform with his band. They walked out in the middle of the set. They had seen enough. The next day, they offered Billy the title role in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. That show was one of the most successful shows OCP ever produced and it launched a new life for Billy.

After 10 years of travelling the country portraying the rock legend, Billy McGuigan is retiring as Buddy Holly. “It definitely wasn’t an easy decision, but to me it just seemed like it was time,” said Billy. “It’s definitely not that I’ve stopped enjoying it, but I truly didn’t want to become the guy that overstays his welcome. You know, the old guy playing the 22-year-old. Buddy Holly’s career was only 18 months; I’m going on 10 years.”

Although Billy won’t be playing Buddy anymore, Rave On: The Buddy Holly Experience will continue. “After this run [at OCP], we have some dates across the country over the next year or so,” said Billy. “I’ll fulfill those obligations and then hang up the glasses for good. Our plan is to find someone to replace me in Rave On and then to keep the show touring for as long as people are interested. We’ve worked diligently over the past year fine tuning and honing the show so that someone could just step right in and take over. My role will be as the producer and director, overseeing the transition so that the quality of the production stays the same!”

Billy won’t be seen around OCP in the horn-rimmed glasses after June, but this isn’t the last you’ll see of him. “Once Rave On is over, I’ll concentrate all of my efforts on Yesterday and Today and Rock Legends,” said Billy. “I’ve loved seeing these shows gain traction across the country, and I so enjoy getting the chance to spend time with my brothers in these shows.” Yesterday and Today will play at OCP in December in the Howard Drew Theatre.

In reference to his favorite part of his Buddy Holly career, Billy said, “It almost sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, but the places that it has taken me and the lifelong friendships that have been established as a result of playing the role. That’s on a selfish note. On a more general level, there has been nothing like being in the middle of the madness, seeing all of these great things from behind foggy glasses. The energy and outpouring of love from audiences that playing this rock icon’s great music has evoked is something that I’ll never forget. I suppose that’s why I’ve done it for 10 years!”

Don’t miss Billy McGuigan’s last Omaha performance as Buddy Holly in Rave On at the Omaha Community Playhouse June 8-24 in the Howard Drew Theatre. Performances are Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m. Tickets are $38 or $32 for groups of 15 or more. For tickets, call (402) 553-0800, visit the Box Office or click here.

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