‘La Bamba’ Lives on in Youth Musical Production
The Winchester Players will present “Ritchie,” an original musical in tribute to 1950s pop star Ritchie Valens and Latin rock at 7 p.m. Friday, April 12 and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 13 at the Winchester Cultural Center Theater, 3130 S. McLeod Drive, just north of Desert Inn Road. All acting, singing and dancing will be performed by youth ages 6 to 17 while the live music will be provided by Rick Arroyo and his Latin Jazz Ensemble and contain the singer’s most famous songs, including “La Bamba” and “Donna,” as well as those by other artists from that era and throughout the history of Latin rock. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased in person or online at www.ClarkCountyNV.gov/parksregistration.
During the course of the production of the show, Arroyo worked with students help them understand the genre as well as learn about Valens and his contributions to music history. Valens, a Mexican-American singer, died in a small plane crash in an Iowa corn field alongside rock n’ roll heavyweights J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Buddy Holly on Feb. 3, 1959. Although Valens was only 17 years old at the time of his death and spent a short time on the national popular music scene, the impact of his work has been felt for generations. Valens transformed “La Bamba,” a traditional Mexican folk song, into a rock n’ roll classic, making him a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock n’ roll movement.
The Winchester Players theater program enrolls more than 70 youth in the spring and fall sessions and is led by the brother-and-sister team of Susan and Christopher Swanson, who wrote, choreographed and will direct the show. Susan Swanson brings Broadway experience to the troupe from shows such as “No, No Nannette,” “Pajama Game” and “Anything Goes” while Christopher Swanson has performed in “Jubilee!” at Bally’s on the Strip, among others.
The next session of the Winchester Players will begin this fall. Programs run in 12-week sessions, meeting two days a week with classes spilt into two age groups – ages 6 to 9 and 10 to 17. Each session culminates in an original musical production to sell-out audiences.
Those interested in “Ritchie” or the Winchester Players can call the Winchester Cultural Center at (702) 455-7340 or visit the Clark County Parks and Recreation Web site at www.ClarkCountyNV.gov/parks. Clark County Parks and Recreation also can be found on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 12th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to more than 2 million citizens and 42 million visitors a year. Included are the nation’s 8th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The county also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to almost 900,000 residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.