By Madyson Ellars
The exact birthdate of rock ‘n’ roll as we know it is hotly debated, but everyone can agree that the late 1950s almost lead to the genre’s demise. Rock ‘n’ roll was accused of being a passing fad at best, and a dangerous instigator of juvenile delinquency at worst. But the tragic plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson, Jr. (“The Big Bopper”) made February 3, 1959 “The Day the Music Died.” MBT’s show 50’s Dance Party is an authentic re-creation of the last tour by these three musicians, and a celebration of their musical legacy.
The original 1959 Winter Dance Party tour featured a grueling schedule with long drives back and forth between Iowa, Wisconsin, Northern Minnesota and then some…all on show days. Many buses broke down completely, and most lacked heating or comfortable accommodations for these stars. After a show in Iowa’s Surf Ballroom, Buddy, Ritchie, and J.P. all wanted to get a jump on their next scheduled show in Minnesota—and were hoping to find a more comfortable way to travel. The three musicians contacted a young pilot at an Iowa plane charter service and the rest, as they say, is history.
Bringing these musicians back to life and back on stage are John Mueller as Buddy Holly, Ray Anthony as Ritchie Valens, and Linwood Sasser as the Big Bopper. Mueller bears a striking resemblance to Buddy Holly, and has previously won a Drama Desk Award for his role in Buddy…the Buddy Holly Story, which has been performed across the country. Ray Anthony, playing Ritchie Valens, is a veteran of the music industry. Anthony is a self-taught guitar player, bass player, drummer and songwriter—talents that have helped him bring Ritchie Valens back to life on stage since the late 1980s. Rounding out the dance party is actor Linwood Sasser, who has always been a little bit big and boppin’! Sasser has been performing as the Big Bopper since 2008 and has been touring with Mueller for nearly a decade.
Don’t take our word for it, read what others have to say, and then come experience for yourself the magic resurrection of rock’s royalty.
“Flawless….rings as clear and true as a chord from a Fender Stratocaster.” -The Chicago Tribune
“One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.” -Larry Holly (Buddy’s brother)
“John Mueller (as Buddy Holly) gives a stunning portrayal. Highly recommended.” -Chicago Sun Times