DC Area’s T. Scott Ross, Greg Bosworth, and Carrie A. Johnson on Appearing in ‘Buddy-The Buddy Holly Story’ at Wolf Trap on July 2nd & 3rd

Three local actors are in the cast of Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story which stops at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center tomorrow and Wednesday night. I asked T. Scott Ross, Greg Bosworth, and Carrie A. Johnson to talk about their roles and growing up in the DC area.

T. SCOTT ROSS

T. Scott Ross. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
T. Scott Ross. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

How did you get involved in Buddy?

T. Scott: Getting into a production of Buddy has been a 7-year quest. It was one of the first callbacks I had after I moved to NYC and year after year I would continue to get callbacks for different productions. I eventually learned that I was losing out to people who had done the show before (a catch 22!) so over the years I decided I was going to force someone to cast me by learning every instrument I possibly could! I played guitar all my life and added upright bass, mandolin, drums, and electric bass in a matter of months. It paid off and after auditioning for 6 productions of the show I booked the national tour.

Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to them?

I am the swing and cover 7 tracks including 2 principals. I think I relate to my track because in life I am a jack of all trades and fit well with different groups of people and in many situations. My track requires me to be ready to go on at a moment’s notice in many different tracks.

You grew up in the DC/MD/VA area. What is the first memory of getting the ‘theatre bug’ and the first time you stepped on the stage to perform? Where did you get your training?

I really had no choice in my love for performing. My mother is a dance teacher and my father a successful insurance salesman (both require lots of performing). Also, my brothers are all big in the dance world including Travis Wall from Fox’s SYTYCD. It’s in the genes! My first live performance was singing “We Are the World” at age 5 at the dance studios recital. I was in dance class till about 13 when chose to rebel. I then decided I was going to be the next Garth Brooks a dream that changed when I went to a high school theater festival and won an award. Soon after I learned about musical theater, which was a way to showcase all the things I enjoyed doing. That led me to Shenandoah University where I received a BFA in Music Theater.

What’s it like coming home and appearing at Wolf Trap?

I am a Virginia boy and will always be a Virginia boy. I am one of the few of my friends who always goes home for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.

Why do you think Buddy Holly’s music is still so popular so many years after his tragic death? 

Buddy was at the forefront of the Rock and Roll revolution. Buddy was one of the first great singer songwriters. Not only did he write the songs, he was producing them at the time of his death. He would have been the American Beatle. His music speaks directly and honestly to the listeners.

How would you describe a Buddy Holly song?

His music just makes ya feel good.

What did you learn about Buddy Holly that you didn’t know about him before appearing in Buddy – The Budy Holly Story?

The neatest fact I learned was that Buddy gave Roy Orbison the guitar lick for “Pretty Woman.” They had the same producer and Buddy uses a similar lick in “Maybe Baby.”

What is your favorite Buddy Holly song and why? 

My favorite Buddy song is “True Love Ways.” It’s a song that I didn’t know and is played in our show on just the acoustic guitar. It’s so simple yet poignant.

Why should DC area audiences come to see you in Buddy -The Buddy Holly Story at Wolf Trap? 

Before The Beatles and before The Rolling Stones, there was Buddy and our cast brings him to life in this exciting production. And most of all, audiences will get to see what it would have been like to attend Buddy’s final show with Richie and The Bopper at the Surf Ballroom in Clearlake.

GREG BOSWORTH:

Greg Bosworth. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Greg Bosworth. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

How did you get involved in Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story?

I did a show with Theater of the Stars in January so the producers knew who I was. Then one day I got an email from the woman in charge of auditions and contracts asking me if I could play any instruments. I told her yes the guitar, the drums, and a little violin and then figured out WHY she sent that when I got the official audition notice in my email a few days later.

Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to them?

I play a selection of ensemble roles: a recording engineer, a radio dj, a photographer, the drummer for “Shout;” but I am billed as ‘Dion’ from Dion and the Belmonts who is only onstage for a few seconds. Most of the work that I’ve done has been as the understudy for Jerry Allison (drums) which is fun because I’ve been playing the drums for about 14 years now but haven’t actually been regularly practicing since college.

You grew up in the DC/MD/VA area. What is the first memory of getting the ‘theatre bug’ and the first time you stepped on the stage to perform? Where did you get your training?

My sister and I both played the violin throughout grade school, and since she went to high school (Southern High School, Harwood MD) two years before me, she made friends with the music and theater crowd that I would eventually enter high school and join. So in 8th grade I decided to try out for The Music Man with the rest of the people I knew and was cast as Winthrop. That show combined with a fateful bad ground ball at 40 mph to the forehead one day led me to the decision that I wanted to go into acting and not baseball. In 10th grade I started singing with a voice teacher right down the street from my high school and eventually took all of it to college.

What’s it like coming home and appearing at Wolf Trap?

It’s one of those full circle feelings. I saw Oklahoma! at Wolf Trap once and another time saw a soft rock violin group called The Corrs, and it was just really mind-blowing to have gotten the schedule at the beginning of rehearsals and call my parents to tell them that I would be playing one of the touring houses I went to go see stuff at as a kid. Especially a rock show like Buddy. I wish we were there for longer than 2 nights!

Why do you think Buddy Holly’s music is still so popular so many years after his tragic death?

He was one of the first great innovators that basically demanded his own genre. The fact that his songs were pretty much some of the absolute FIRST songs of rock and roll makes them timeless.

How would you describe a Buddy Holly song?

By today’s standards, simple. But not in a bad way. Most of his songs are 3 or 4 chords on the guitar with a very basic song structure, and the lyrics are about having fun with girls. They are really easy to listen to.

What did you learn about Buddy Holly that you didn’t know about him before appearing in Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story?

Well admittedly I’m from a younger generation and of course had heard the name Buddy Holly but never took an interest in his music. Then when the audition notice came around and I had to learn “That’ll be the Day,” I listened to it and went, ‘Oooh yeah ok I’ve heard this before’ and then just put the pieces together.

What is your favorite Buddy Holly song and why?

I’m quite a fan of “Ready Teddy” which is the first song The Crickets play in the show. It’s super fun to play on drums. I also really like our cast’s arrangement of “Raining in My Heart” with saxophone and violin.

Why should DC area audiences come to see you in Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story at Wolf Trap?

If you’re part of a younger generation, like myself, you’ll learn where so many bands got their influence from and where rock and roll started. And if you’re part of the generation that grew up when Buddy Holly was alive or after his death when the songs were still very present, it will make you feel like you’re in high school again. We get to see that transformation in the audience every single night.

CARRIE A. JOHNSON:

Carrie A. Johnson. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Carrie A. Johnson. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

How did you get involved in Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story?

Through a relatively normal audition process. My agent informed me of an appointment and what I was to prepare – a song in the style of the show and a piano excerpt they provided. I sang “Boy from New York City,” played the piano excerpt and was invited to return for a callback, including some scenes to prepare and was asked to also prepare some material on my flute. After several rounds of callbacks with all these materials, I received a phone call!

Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to them?

I am an ensemble member playing a variety of characters, primarily Vi Petty and Aunt Santiago.  How do I relate to them? I can’t say that I do on very many levels. This is a period piece and I didn’t live it, but it is great fun and a challenge to put myself in their shoes. Vi Petty is a great lover of rock and roll music and Aunt Santiago is the complete opposite, which makes it fun for me as an actor.

You grew up in the DC/MD/VA area. What is the first memory of getting the ‘Theatre Bug’ and the first time you stepped on the stage to perform? Where did you get your training?

‘Theatre Bug’ – I have a memory from 4th grade, living in Brunswick, Maine at the time of doing an elementary school production of Tom Sawyer. I was enamored with watching two of my favorite characters – Tom and Huck – from one of my favorite books come to life in front of me and have these wonderful adventures that my friends were actually getting to do in real life on stage! I remember it had nothing to do with the audience but everything to do with wanting to live in those moments.  And the music!  Oh the music and the singing. Getting to sing about what you thought and how you were feeling…I can still sing the entire song that Tom’s girlfriend sang…”Give A Gift.” Oh how I wanted to sing that song!!

We moved to Vienna after that and I was introduced to Spotlight Children’s Theatre, run by Betty Reiser. Her family is well known in Vienna, a lot of us did the children’s theatre shows that she and her husband, Rock, put together for us. In 6th grade at Flint Hill Elementary we did Winnie The Pooh. I played Kanga, and I was hooked. My poor mom had to make me a Kanga costume, which I think I wore for the next three Halloween’s running.

Training? Honestly, being involved in as many opportunities as possible…including band, piano lessons, dance class, church and school choirs, and whatever community or high school theatre I could be involved in. I didn’t study this in college; I was a flautist and a Music Education major planning on being a band director. Musical Theatre was always a hobby, until it suddenly wasn’t. THEN I started taking classes – Shakespeare, Scene Study, Monologues and Audition Technique. Now I teach Audition Technique classes and master classes. And I am actually heading to Penn State this fall to begin a graduate program in Vocal Pedagogy for Musical Theatre…that is essentially the ‘science’ of teaching proper singing technique.  I’m really excited about it!

What’s it like coming home and appearing at Wolf Trap?

I have always watched concerts at Wolf Trap, but never performed there. The last concert I saw there was actually John Denver, another music icon who died before his time and brought us so much joy through his music. Considering we are doing Buddy Holly’s story, I’m SO excited to see the audiences reaction, hoping for much dancing and singing in the aisles and on the lawn, the way I always did. I think that will be the best part!!

Why do you think Buddy Holly’s music is still so popular so many years after his tragic death?

It’s the beat. It’s the lyrics – clean, simple poignant. It’s the familiar chord progressions that create a sense of joy in us. And I venture to say for those people who lived through it, there’s a sense of accomplishment for how far our country has come since the days of Buddy Holly, Elvis and other white entertainers beginning to imitate and perform what was more commonly known as ‘colored’ music. Buddy was not afraid to bridge that gap.  He also took the basic Rockabilly structure that was laid down by favorites like Little Richard and Bo Diddley and began expanding that musical structure, including different chord progressions, experimenting with other instruments and rhythmic structures. He progressed contemporary/popular music as a whole, and it’s a shame he wasn’t able to continue to do so.

How would you describe a Buddy Holly song?

What did you learn about Buddy Holly that you didn’t know about him before appearing in Buddy?

Almost everything. I was aware that the song “American Pie” was about the plane crash and the sudden loss of these incredible musicians, but I wasn’t really aware of the historical significance and evolution of music that was going on at the time in our country. What a FASCINATING time to have lived in. It’s no wonder our audiences have so much passion for these songs.

What is your favorite Buddy Holly song and why?

“Rave On.” Without question. I actually didn’t even know it was his until I started this show. I remembered it from a cassette tape I played so much I wore it into the ground from the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail.  When I looked back at the soundtrack I saw it also has “Chantilly Lace,” “All Shook Up” and “Tutti Frutti”…some of my FAVORITE tunes! I used to dance around my room to that entire soundtrack. Guess I should put it on my iPod now.

Why should DC area audiences come to see you in Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story at Wolf Trap?

I think DC will just love this show BECAUSE it’s at Wolf Trap!! Because it’s a show that encourages you, DARES you, to get on your feet and “dance like no one is watching.” That’s much more intimidating in a closed theatre setting than an outdoor amphitheater KNOWN for its concerts. It’s a rockin’ good time and the perfect mix of musical theatre vs. concert for a venue like Wolf Trap.

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Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story has two performances on Tuesday July 2nd at 8 PM and Wednesday, July 3rd at 8 PM at The Filene Center at Wolf Trap -1551 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. For tickets, purchase them online for Tuesday Tuesday and Wednesday.


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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.