In 1958, Richard Steven Valenzuela, a teenager from the San Fernando Valley, went from obscurity to celebrity overnight.
Within weeks of being discovered fronting his band at a high school dance party, he became rockstar and teen idol Ritchie Valens. And then on February 3, 1959, Valens and music icons Buddy Holly and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson tragically perished in a plane crash while on tour—later called “The Day the Music Died."
Through Plays in Process, Seattle Rep will explore the creation of A Ritchie Valens Musical, which imagines a world where the plane landed without incident and Valens’ skyrocketing career would have continued unabated. Get a glimpse at the early creative process behind this new world premiere musical following the life of a pioneer in Latin rock music.
A Ritchie Valens Musical Reading List
Get ready for Plays in Process: A Ritchie Valens Musical with SPL’s curated list of books, music, and films. Explore the lives and music of Ritchie Valens’ contemporaries and Valens’ impact on modern Chicano and Latin rock music.
Meet the Team
Octavio Solis is a playwright and director whose works Quixote Nuevo, Mother Road, Hole in the Sky, Alicia’s Miracle, Se Llama Cristina, John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven, Ghosts of the River, Lydia, June in a Box, Gibraltar, The Ballad of Pancho and Lucy, The Seven Visions of Encarnación, Dreamlandia, El Otro, Prospect, El Paso Blue, Santos & Santos, La Posada Mágica, Prospect, and Man of the Flesh have been mounted across the country at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage, Huntington Theatre, Magic Theatre SF, Center Theatre Group, Theatre at Boston Court, California Shakespeare Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, INTAR, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Dallas Theater Center, South Coast Repertory Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Cornerstone Theatre, Kitchen Dog Theatre, Shakespeare Dallas, Shadowlight Productions, Mixed Blood Theatre Company, Circle X Theatre Company, Tides Theatre, El Teatro Campesino, Teatro Vista, Teatro Dallas, Teatro Visión, Venture Theatre, Thick Description, and Campo Santo at Intersection for the Arts.
His collaborative works include Cloudlands, a musical co-written with Adam Gown and Shiner, co-written with Erik Ehn. Solis has received the 2019 Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award from the William Inge Center for the Arts, the 2018 Imagen Award for his consultancy on Disney-Pixar’s Coco, the 2015 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Texas State University Black and Latino Playwrights Conference, the 2014 Pen Center Literary Award for Drama, the United States Artists Fellowship for 2012, the 2003 National Latino Playwriting Award, the 2000-01 National Theatre Artists Residency from TCG and the Pew Charitable Trust, the 1998 TCG/NEA Theatre Artists in Residence Grant, the 1998 McKnight Fellowship grant from the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, the 1995-97 Playwriting Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the 1994 Will Glickman Playwright Award. Solis was recently inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters and is a Thornton Wilder Fellow for the MacDowell Colony, New Dramatists alum, and member of the Dramatists Guild.
His new book, Retablos: Stories From A Life Lived Along The Border, published by City Lights Publishers, received the 2018 Silver Indies Award for Book of the Year and has been chosen by the National Reading Group Month’s Committee for the Great Group Reads 2019 Selections.
Music & Lyrics
Louie Pérez is an American songwriter, percussionist, painter, prose writer, and guitarist for the multiple Grammy Award-winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominated band Los Lobos. Pérez is the group's principal songwriter and lyricist. His work has been showcased on every Los Lobos recording, beginning with "And A Time To Dance" (1983) and continuing through the band's most recent album, Gates of Gold (2015). Pérez also co-wrote songs with his writing partner David Hidalgo for two critically acclaimed albums by Latin Playboys, their side project. Pérez also wrote songs for Tony Kushner's 1994 theatrical adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan at the La Jolla Playhouse as well as co-writing the book for About Productions’ play Evangeline, the Queen of Make Believe which premiered at the Bootleg Theatre in Los Angeles.
His songs have been covered by many artists including Waylon Jennings, Jerry Garcia, and Robert Plant. His prose work has been published in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, LA Weekly, Dinosaur Magazine and the New York arts journal BOMB, to name a few. Pérez has also served as art director for a number of album packages including all of Los Lobos recordings to date. On the Los Lobos boxed set, "El Cancionero: Más y Más," Pérez was credited with Editorial Direction and Art Supervision. The set was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Boxed Recording Package in 2001.
As a visual artist, Pérez has shown his painting and sculpture since 1975 in many prominent galleries and museums, including The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), Plaza De La Raza - Los Angeles, El Museo Del Barrio - New York, San Antonio Museum of Art, Museo De Arte Moderno - Mexico City, The William Grant Still Art Center - Los Angeles, and The Vincent Price Art Museum - East Los Angeles.
Good Morning, Aztlán: The Words, Pictures and Songs of Louie Pérez was published in October 2018 by Tia Chucha/Northwestern University Press.
Music & Lyrics
David Hidalgo is an American singer-songwriter, and a founding member of Los Lobos, for which he wrote most songs together with Louie Pérez. Additionally, he also participated as a guest musician on albums of other artists, including David Alvin, Buckwheat Zydeco, Paul Burlison, T-Bone Burnett, Peter Case, Toni Childs, Marc Cohn, Ry Cooder, Elvis Costello, Crowded House, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, John Lee Hooker, Rickie Lee Jones, Leo Kottke, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Pierce Pettis, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Simon, Taj Mahal, Suzanne Vega, Bob Dylan, and Tom Waits.
He is also a member of the super group, Los Super Seven and the Latin Playboys, a side project made up of some members of Los Lobos. With Mike Halby of Canned Heat, he formed another band, Houndog, as a side project. Hildalgo’s songs have been covered by the Jerry Garcia Band, Waylon Jennings, Bonnie Raitt, and others. He has performed in Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival since it’s inception in 2004 and in April 2013 at Madison Square Garden. Clapton joined the band on stage for their song "Burn It Down" from their album Tin Can Trust.
For the movie Promised Land, he contributed in 1987 the song "Will the Wolf Survive." For Dennis Hopper's film drama Colors (1988) he wrote the song "One Time, One Night." He wrote the songs "Manifold De Amour," "Forever Night Shade Mary," and "Chinese Surprize" for the 1995 action film Desperado as well as the melancholic song "La Pistola y El Corazón" for the movie The Mexican (2001).
Tony Taccone most recently directed Kiss My Aztec, and new musical he co-wrote with John Leguizamo. He recently ended his tenure as Artistic Director of Berkeley Rep, during which time the theatre presented more than 70 world, American, and West Coast premieres and sent 24 shows to New York, two to London, and one to Hong Kong.
He has directed new work by Tony Kushner, Julia Cho, John Leguizamo, Daniel Handler, Culture Clash, Rinde Eckert, David Edgar, Danny Hoch, Geoff Hoyle, and Itamar Moses. Two of his shows, Continental Divide and Tiny Kushner, transferred to London, and three have landed on Broadway: Bridge & Tunnel, Wishful Drinking, and Latin History for Morons. Prior to working at Berkeley Rep, Tony served as artistic director of Eureka Theatre, where he commissioned Tony Kushner’s legendary Angels in America and co-directed its world premiere. His regional credits include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arena Stage, Center Theatre Group, Guthrie Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and The Public Theater. In 2015, Mr. Taccone received the Margo Jones Award for “demonstrating a significant impact, understanding, and affirmation of playwriting, with a commitment to the living theatre.”
Original Music & Lyrics
Ritchie Valens was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. A rock and roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement, Valens' recording career lasted eight months and abruptly ended when he died in a plane crash.
During this time, he had several hits, most notably "La Bamba," which he had adapted from a Mexican folk song. Valens transformed the song into one with a rock rhythm and beat and it became a hit in 1958, making Valens a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock and roll movement. He also had the American number 2 hit "Donna."
On February 3, 1959, on what has become known as "The Day the Music Died," Valens died in a plane crash in Iowa, an accident that also claimed the lives of fellow musicians Buddy Holly and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, as well as pilot Roger Peterson. Valens was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Lead Producer, North Ridge Productions, LLC
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