The day the music died, at 5th Avenue
August 28, 2008 · Updated 10:42 AM
SEATTLE A moving story with lots of fun music and a very sad ending, The Buddy Holly Story, was especially powerful on opening night Feb. 15 at the 5th Avenue Theatre when Buddy Hollys real-life wife, Maria Elena, took the stage at the end of the show.
The production features a bunch of Northwest musical talent including the four members of Dusty 45s and Casey MacGills Blue 4 Trio playing the founders of rock-n-roll, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, as well as Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.
The show portrays how Holly escaped his old time country-western roots in Lubbock, Texas, and leaped into the exotic world of rhythm and blues with a twist.
An especially meaningful scene in the stage musical showed Hollys groundbreaking debut at Harlems Apollo Theatre in 1957 when the young white boys played their music for the first time for a black audience.
By the end of the concert, the Harlem locals were on the stage with the Texas boys.
Billy Joe Huels felt pretty comfortable on stage in this show wearing the thick black glasses that defined Hollys identity.
My first show ever at the Tractor Tavern was actually a tribute to Buddy Holly, Huels said.
I sang and played three of his tunes, and it almost felt like I was Buddy playing the Apollo Theatre for the first time. Buddy was a bit nervous having never played to an all-black audience, and I was nervous having never played to a crowd packed full of rowdy rockabilly greasers, Huels said.
The show continues with Hollys daring marriage to a cute Latino receptionist at the New York record company in New York. Unlike in many biographies of musicians, the marriage never went bad Maria Elena delivered Hollys baby, after he died in a firey plane crash.
With all the great songs, Thatll be the Day, Peggy Sue, Chantilly Lace, Peggy Sue got Married, and Richie Valences La Bamba, the 5th Avenue production captures those really early days of rock-n-roll.
The show originally opened in London in 1989 and won two Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical. It played for 13 years in London and then toured all over the world, winning countless theater awards.
Feb. 3, 2007 marked the 48th anniversary of The Day the Music Died the tragic plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson, a.k.a. the Big Bopper which was immortalized by Don McLeans 1971 ballad American Pie.
Theyve done a terrific job of putting the highlights of Buddys career into two hours, Maria Elena Holly said when they called her up on stage at the end of the show.
Just seeing the people dancing to Buddys music makes me so happy. The 5th Avenue Theatres cast is comprised entirely of Seattle-based professional actors and musicians.
Tickets are priced from $20 to $73 by phone at 206-625-1900, toll free at 888-5TH-4TIX, online at www.5thavenue.org or in person at the box office in downtown Seattle. There is no service charge when purchasing tickets in person at The 5th Avenue Theatre Box Office.