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 Montpelier Magazine

The big bopper

Nicholas Kohn ('98) has seen 110 cities in 10 months. But he's not a rock star, he just plays one at work. Kohn portrayed the Big Bopper in the traveling Broadway musical The Buddy Holly Story.

'Performing is everything to me,' says Kohn. 'I feel like everyone has a purpose in life, and mine is to perform on a stage. The musicals and operas I did at JMU were definitely the beginning of my performing career.'

Kohn, a music major, performed in the JMU productions of Mikado, Kiss Me Kate, The Tenderland, Hansel and Gretel and Man of La Mancha.

'The hardest part about performing 300 shows of The Buddy Holly Story is remembering that our characters aren't made up,' Kohn says. 'They were real people, and it's important for me to remember that and try to bring life and memories to the legacy of J.P. Richardson [a.k.a. the Big Bopper].'

Richardson was a performer with a huge personality and the ability to make audiences laugh, according to Kohn, who like Richardson, is a 'big guy who loves music, laughing and performing.'

The Buddy Holly Story rocked its way through 46 states and Canada from September 2001 to June 2002, and Kohn says he loved the travel. 'We started this tour right after Sept. 11 happened, and it was very important for me to see the country and remember what we are fighting for.'

Kohn's best friend and brother, Mike, won a bronze medal in the bobsled in the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City. 'Without Mike, I'm not sure I would be pursuing this crazy career,' says Kohn. 'We push each other to keep striving for our dreams.'

Read more about The Buddy Holly Story at


Janelle DiOrio ('03)