From Abba to Zayn, music has certainly changed a lot over the past 50 years. But what hasn’t changed is the musical talent and passion displayed by Saint Mary’s University students at the Blue Angel musical variety show, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Performances featuring students and alumni are scheduled for Friday, Nov. 11 and Saturday, Nov. 12.
Since 1967, Blue Angel has served as an opportunity for Saint Mary’s students on the Winona Campus to showcase their musical talent, raise money for important causes, and have fun. The first show was organized in the fall of 1967 by Brother Paul Grass, FSC and the Student Senate as a way to bring students from the College of Saint Teresa and Saint Mary’s College together to showcase students’ talents.
“I’ve met many alumni who are now married and said they met or had their first date at Blue Angel,” said Bob Fisher, director of alumni relations at Saint Mary’s.
The show was named after The Blue Angel, a 1930 German cabaret movie starring Marlene Dietrich. In the early years, Blue Angel was held in the old Student Union, a wooden building that stood between the Saint Thomas More Chapel and the Adducci Science Center. The close quarters and balconies simulated a nightclub atmosphere similar to the movie.
The brothers of the Phi Mu Alpha musical fraternity assumed sponsorship of the show in 1968 and gave it a philanthropic twist. Proceeds from Blue Angel have supported many causes, including musical organizations in Winona and the Tipitina’s Foundation in New Orleans, which provided support to displaced musicians after Hurricane Katrina. This year’s show will support Movember, the Sinfonia Educational Foundation Scholarship, the Saint Mary’s Kevin P. O’Connell Scholarship, and the Caputo Children’s Fund.
Student Aidan Goodman, Phi Mu Alpha’s current president, said the brothers began planning for the 50th show in February. After countless hours of work and preparation, he’s excited to see the alumni return and play some great music.
“Blue Angel is really a student-leadership event,” Fisher said. “From putting an act together, to running the sound and lights, to getting a group to be the best they can be when they perform—there’s good student development that happens throughout the show.”
More than 100 alumni, friends, and family members are returning to the Winona Campus to take part in this musical legacy—including the founding members of the Oldie Moldie All-Stars, a band of Phi Mu Alpha brothers famous for its old-time tunes.
“We figured we’d put something together for the show and play a few old songs, even for that era,” said founding member Kevin Kubacki ’71 . “We gathered together in the Heffron Hall bathroom because it had the best acoustics on campus and put together some harmonies and songs.”
Kubacki is looking forward to performing in the alumni show on Saturday with his fellow band members, many of whom he has not seen for 10 years. Since the Oldie’s debut at the first Blue Angel show, the Phi Mu Alpha brothers have kept the music playing and to this day perform the traditional set of ’50s hits for Saint Mary’s and the greater Winona-area community.
The fact that the group he formed 50 years ago has become a Saint Mary’s tradition is something Kubacki carries with him every day.
“The joy of music is a beloved art form,” Kubacki said. “The Oldie Moldie All-Stars was an expression of that joy. I look forward to meeting the current brothers and sisters who carry on that joy of music and fellowship.”
Four Blue Angel shows are scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 11–12 in the Toner Student Center Dining Hall on the Winona Campus. The alumni show features performances by returning alumni and will be held on Saturday at 7 p.m. The student performances are Friday at 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., and Saturday at 10:30 p.m. Tickets for the student shows are $7. The alumni show is $10 per person and the proceeds will go to the Phi Mu Alpha Chapter. Tickets can be purchased at the door before the show.