Indy in January: Back to the '50s

December 1, 2008
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Break out the poodle skirts and leather jackets. Mid-January, 2009, is being taken over by the 1950s. At least, in Central Indiana it is.

Nobody planned it this way. It's not a part of some cross-promotion. It just seems to be happening this way.

On Jan. 17, Pike Performing Arts Center is bringing in "John Mueller's Winter Dance Party," which recreates the famed last tour of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper (The Bopper's real-life son plays his dad). A day earlier, Pike is hosting the Elvis Birthday Tribute Artist Spectacular, a rental event--not part of the subscription season--featuring a trio of Elvi as well as the King's drummer, D.J. Fontana.

Elvis and Buddy Holly, back to back? What more could a self-respecting greaser want?

Well, how about the Fonz? That same week, Jan. 13-18, is when Broadway in Indianapolis brings the national tour of "Happy Days: The Musical" to Clowes Hall.

Enough nostalgia for you? Just wait.

Over that same weekend, the Madame Walker Theatre will be hosting concerts by living legends Jerry Lee Lewis on Jan. 16 and Little Richard on the 17th. Both, rest assured, are the real deal, not simulations.

And, for movie fans, Jan. 9-10 brings "Some Like It Hot" to the big screen at Franklin's wonderful Artcraft Theatre. And over at the IMA, the Tobias Theatre will be showing "La Dolce Vita" on the 16th. Okay, so it was released in 1960, it was shot in 1959. That counts, doesn't it?

Or maybe I'm stretching it. Still.

Anyone up for dinner at Mug 'n' Bun?
  • I'm sorry, I thought I just read the words Happy Days: The Musical. Has GREASE not cornered the market on '70s-originated retro-'50s schmaltz-pop nostalgia extravaganzas? Must we listen to Henry Winkler impersonators singing?
  • Yes, Brian, you read correctly.

    At least Happy Days has an original score and isn't cobbled together from '50s hits. That's saying something. Maybe. We'll see.


    P.S.: Let's not write off every musical set in the 1950s. Cry Baby was an underrated blast (even if it tanked on Broadway). TOTS, Buck Creek, or another local theater looking to do a fun musical with some great female supporting characters could knock it out of the park. (Of course, Cry Baby didn't originate in the '70s and doesn't contain much schmaltz.)
  • On a semi-related note, back in the '90s, the cast of The Jeffersons toured with a stage production of episodes from the show. When I heard about The Jeffersons Live, I thought it marked the end of theater as we know it.

    Theater somehow survived.

  • I agree: theater is very resilient.

    'Speaking of resilience..Lou, your original post made me think of the 50s Days that we used to have at school when I was growing up. Girls were supposed to borrow their moms' old poodle skirts and saddle shoes. Boys were supposed to borrow their dads' old pegged jeans, and roll up candy cigarettes in the sleeves of their white t-shirts. I think it was related to sports somehow - showing school spirit or something like that. I just thought it was fun.

    I know we did it year after year because the boys somehow learned to grease their hair back with Prell shampoo instead of Vasiline (much easier to wash out!)

    But just as I was leaving high school (class of '79), the 50s' Days started to be replaced with 60s Days, and everyone was supposed to wear headbands, love beads, and bell bottom jeans with peace symbols embroidered on them.

    Do kids still have decade days like this, I wonder? And if so, which decades do they wear?

    Hope Baugh
  • This could be a stretch too, since Ella Fitzgerald’s career spanned many decades. But the Pops Series at the ISO in 09 begins with “For Ella: Patti Austin Plays Tribute” on Jan. 16-18, and I’m sure will feature many of the hits during the 1950s.

    Jessica R. Di Santo
    Director of Communications
    Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
  • Lou,

    Thanks for the plug of John Mueller’s “Winter Dance Party” at Pike in January. It’s obviously a tribute show, but the guy who portrays the Big Bopper is his actual son, Jay Richardson. And, Buddy’s widow, Maria Elana Holly, is quoted as saying “John (Mueller) is the only one who does it exactly like Buddy did.”

    Ray Anthony as Ritchie Valens is no slouch either. Ritchie’s sister, Irma, says “Every time I see Ray perform as Ritchie it brings a tear to my eye.”

    February 3, 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the tragic plane crash.

    A piece of trivia: John Lennon and Paul McCartney were inspired by Buddy’s backup band, The Crickets, when they named their quartet.

    Jeff Maess
    Pike Performing Arts Center
  • Hope - The '80s are now the retro vogue. The movie and the musical of THE WEDDING SINGER are perhaps the biggest example of that, and I know there's a musical now called BACK TO THE '80s. A local high school is preparing to do that.

    Back to the future indeed.

    What on earth will '90s nostalgia consist of, when it inevitably appears? I wonder.
  • Lou,

    Meet you and Mug 'n Bun anytime! You call it. Pork Tenderloin Basket and Root Beer are on me. We'll go halfsies on the Onion Rings and Breaded Mushrooms.

    I'll be in the '57 Pontiac ...I wish!

  • Brian, thanks for answering my question. Man, I wonder what 90s nostalgia will be, too. I'm still getting used to the fact that my normal is now retro.

    Pres and Lou, is the Mug'n'Bun a real place? The name makes me think of Wanted posters at the Post Office and...I dunno...Playgirl magazine.

    Or a Jane Fonda exercise video, speaking of retro.

    Hope Baugh
  • Yes Virginia (Hope),
    There is a Mug 'n' Bun.

    I think I'll wait until it's a little warmer.
  • Thanks Jessica! I LOVE Ella - and didn't know about this!!
  • Alrite, Lou. If you must. But do I need to remind you of their heated outdoor seating for those not-so summer months? ;)

    Hope Baugh, you're in for a treat! See great video of Robin Miller (of racecar fame)'s visit here:

    Mug 'n Bun also has a 95% Visit Again rating on (excellent mouthwatering pics)

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