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Musical to tell story of Pirate Hall of Famer

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

Ronnie Johnson, who went on to play college football before losing his life in a tragic accident, is one of those to be inducted into the Platte County Pirates Hall of Fame.

Ronald “Ronnie” Johnson graduated from Platte County High School in 1967. Johnson went on to play football at Wichita State University, but was killed when the team's plane crashed in Colorado in 1970.

Johnson was a poet and musician and had written several pieces of music before his death.

Now Johnson's father, Howard Johnson, has written a musical called “Waltzing in Heaven” about the crash of the plane. The musical will premiere at Wichita State this October, commemorating the 38th anniversary of the crash.

Howard Johnson, who lives in Platte County, came up with the idea for the play and Janie Peak, adjunct theater professor at Park University, put the story and script together for the musical.

The musical consists of 14 songs, of which two were composed by Vickie and Scott Beck, Howard Johnson's daughter and son-in-law.

The other songs were written by Rick Lopez a musician from Texas that the Johnsons met during a winter vacation.

The musical portrays the events of the crash and its effect on the family and friends of the players who died. The musical also follows a woman who found Ronnie’s silver ring on the mountainside and who returned the ring to Howard and Virginia.

The main piece in the musical is called “The Ivory Key Overture.” The majority of the music was written by Ronald Johnson before his death, and then finished by Lopez, using parts of the Wichita State fight song.

The musical begins on October 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Wilner Auditorium in Wichita, Kan.

The Pirate Hall of Fame was created in 1999 and has inducted members every year since. The Hall of Fame has a total of 30 members before the class of 2008 inductees.

The Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Pirate Booster Club.



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