Centrefold: This'll be the day: The rock musical that is alive and kicking - and making a mint

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Indy Lifestyle Online
This Thursday, the Victoria Palace presents the 2,000th performance of Buddy (right), the rock'n'roll celebration of the bespectacled legend whose following is as fanatical as ever.

The musical of the Buddy Holly story, which was given a blessing by Holly's widow Maria Elena, has proved a spectacular success, taking pounds 25m at West End box offices alone since its debut in October 1989. Outside London, Buddy has made pounds 15m touring the UK over the last three years and a further pounds 35m in the US, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, which just goes to show that if you've got a good idea, let it run and run.

Alex Bourne is now the sixth person to take on the mantle of the title lead. Due to the regular knee-sliding favoured by the original Buddy Holly, Bourne gets through four pairs of trousers per week at a cost of pounds 35,000 per year. 'The part is tougher than Hamlet, but he didn't have to play the guitar or sing,' says Paul Elliott, the show's co-producer.

Perhaps those with the greatest cause to celebrate this anniversary are the show's backers, who originally put up sums ranging from pounds 1,000 to pounds 50,000. They have had more than a fourfold return on their investment.

But such thoughts are far from the minds of the show's official fan club members, who profess an almost religious devotion to the Fifties hero whose life was tragically cut short by a plane crash in February 1959.

The club members receive discounts on tickets and the inevitable Buddy merchandise. They have all seen the show at least twice, some giving up every evening to join the show's party atmosphere.

One man has even followed the show around the world, hearing old favourites such as 'Peggy Sue' and 'That'll Be the Day' over 500 times. You wonder if he has a family. Another used the stage at the end of a performance to propose to his future wife. With the kind of audience the show has, the woman couldn't refuse. If the chance to meet the cast at the Christmas party isn't enough, then fans can always get up-to-the-minute backstage gossip thanks to a special telephone hotline.

Victoria Palace (071-834 1317) Mon-Thurs 8pm, tickets pounds 11-pounds 22, Fri mat 5.30pm, (all seats half-price), Fri eve 8.30pm, Sat mat 5.00pm, eve 8.30pm at pounds 12-pounds 25 (Hotline: 071-233 7557)

(Photograph omitted)

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