Director Amber Mak Talks World Premiere of New Version of “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” at Chicago’s Marriott Theatre

Amber Mak, one of Chicago’s most sought-after and respected musical theatre directors, will be the featured guest on this week’s episode of entertainment industry radio show and podcast It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee.

Mak will be discussing the upcoming production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Marriott Theater, located in Lincolnshire. The award-winning theater is known for the top-level talent it secures for each of its productions.

Mak is both directing and choreographing this premier of an original interpretation of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story derived from the best elements of the varied scripts that have been performed to date. The initial production of Buddy was in London’s West End in 1989. Since then, there have been adaptations for Broadway, a U.S. national tour, Australia, a West End revival, and multiple different U.K. tours. Mak had a direct hand in sculpting the version that will begin previews at Marriott June 21 and run through August 13.

Buddy details the rise to fame of Buddy Holly, considered one of the pioneers of rock n’ roll. In his short career he had such monumental hits as Everyday, Peggy Sue, That’ll Be the Day, It’s So Easy, and Oh Boy.

Tragically, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper all died in a fiery plane crash on the way to a concert appearance together at the height of their careers on February 3, 1959. Holly was only 22 years old.

The Marriott Theatre production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story features Chicago favorite son Kieran McCabe as the title character. McCabe is an accomplished actor, musician, and recording artist whose credits include Million Dollar Quartet at Marriott, Rock of Ages at Paramount Theatre, and As You Like It at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Other credits include work with Milwaukee Repertory Theater, The House Theatre, and American Blues Theater.

In the It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee interview, we discuss the extensive research the director/choreographer undertook to do justice to the life story of one of rock’s earliest and most influential stars. The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, and Bruce Springsteen all credit Holly with being a key influence on their approach to music.

Mak’s recent directorial and choreography credits include The Sound of Music, Rock of Ages, Hairspray, and The Wizard of Oz at Paramount Theatre and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. She also has multiple creative choreographer and assistant director credits with Drury Lane Theatre and an impressive slew of regional performing experience. She has received Jeff Award nominations as a director and as a choreographer.

In my personal opinion, Amber Mak is one of Chicago’s brightest stars when it comes to musical theater directors and choreographers. I think that listeners are really going to be fascinated by her approach to directing and creating dance routines that always wow audiences.

During our interview we will also discuss the unique challenges of staging a show in Marriott’s theater-in-the-round space. This new version of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story runs approximately 95 minutes, without an intermission and includes a faithful recreation of the last concert played by Holly, Valens, and The Big Bopper.

Buddy Holly was such a huge influence on so many artists. Marriott Theatre is one of the best in the business at bringing stories to life in a way that hasn’t been done before. Chicago is going to absolutely love what Amber Mak and her talented cast are able to do with the story of this incredible rock icon.

It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee is a half hour, weekly interview program about the world of entertainment including theatre, film, television, and music.

The radio program airs every Friday at 3 PM CST on 101.5 FM WHRU out of Chicago’s Huntley community. Those outside the listening area can stream in real-time at

It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee is now also available as a podcast the Thursday of the same week on all major podcast platforms.











Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, directed and choreographed by Amber Mak, begins previews on Wednesday, June 21, with an opening scheduled for June 28. The biographical musical plays through August 13.

The cast also includes Jed Fender, Shaun Whitley, Jordan Arredondo, Melanie Brezill, Alex Goodrich, Cory Goodrich, Molly Hernandez, Ellie Kahn, Michael Kurowski, David Stobbe, Marcus Terell, and Christopher Wren. Understudies include Teddy Gales, Lucia Padilla Katz, Nolan Robinson, Aja Singletary, and Kelan Smith.

 For ticket information visit or call the box office at (847) 634-0200.

 Peace. Love. Trust.

Rikki Lee Travolta


If you appreciate the nature of my words here, I ask that you take just a moment to share this article with your social media of choice. Please help spread the word about The Life and Times of Rikki Lee Travolta to family and friends.


Follow me on Facebook The Life and Times of Rikki Lee Travolta (/rikkileetravolta), LinkedIn (/rltravolta)  and Twitter (@RikkiLeeTV)


Don’t miss a review, feature story, news item, or editorial – Get every new Life and Times story delivered directly to your email!

Leave a Reply