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The Birds: A Modern Adaptation
by Burbank High School


It’s not Alfred Hitchcock. It’s a modern adaptation of the Greek satire by Aristophanes. And in this case the birds are less interested in picking on humans and more interested in reigning among the gods. Two humans, friends Pithetaerus and Eulpides, get the fight rolling when they take the advice of a homeless oracle and head up into the mountains in search of the legendary King of the Birds, Epops. They complain about the headaches of modern human society and the role the gods play in those headaches. But there’s a solution. If the birds work together, they could stop human sacrifices from reaching the gods, and the gods would be forced to accede to the birds’ demands. Epops calls a conference among the birds. They aren’t too crazy about humans, but like the idea of taking ultimate power, which they feel is their divine right (being descendants of the gods themselves).  

This update by Don Zolidis is a terrific comedy that weaves together a colorful variety of birds, a sprinkling of ancient gods with contemporary personalities, and some humorous humans dealing with such headaches as politicians, insurance companies, and Justin Bieber.  


Brooks and Ann Gardner have picked another great and rarely done ensemble-driven play, and again Burbank High School presents a unique and entertaining night of theatre. The visuals are magnificent starting with the rocky mountain top (set by Ann Gardner). Dozens of creative costumes (Ann Gardner and Louisa Vasquez) aid the transformation into birds and gods while also complementing the various personalities. Aviary-ish bird sounds (Jose Vasquez and Logan Shea) and a pleasing projection for the sky beyond the rocks complete the setting for this modern, and ancient, fantasy. 

The cast is deep and impressive, and each of them have moments to shine individually while also working as one. Miles Lopez and Brandon Killham are the two humans on a quest: Miles as the clever one who dreams up the idea of the utopian “Happy Bird City” and Brandon as the not-as-clever goofy sidekick, and they are an amusing duo both as humans and later as newly minted birds. Lawrence Harris is Epops, delighting in the fact that he gets to poop on people from above, enraptured by the idea of a Happy Bird City, and still with a thing for “hot chicks” which led to his celestial downgrade. Faina Danielian is terrific as his complaining, irritated wife unhappy with her philandering husband and the bird fate it has led them to (eating worms and such).  

The flock of birds is full of memorable personalities. Jaylene Castro is the gatekeeper hawk who guards a ceremonial gate and warns the humans at the door that she doesn’t want any pitches on religion or magazine subscriptions. The tough gangster birds include two birds angry about their names – Titmouse (Elliot Maynes) and Blue-Footed-Booby (Noah Weinstein). Lauren Yu is a psychopathic Crow who wants the mammalian bird-imposter Bat (Maria Harris) done away with. Stephen Cormier feels put upon and depressed as the Kiwi who can’t fly. McKynlee Vuncannon shines as the charming parrot cursed with repeating others. Maive Czerwinski delights as the flitting and fast-talking Hummingbird with attention-deficit disorder who everyone else has trouble understanding. Josh Johnson is a hoot as a flamingo in drag. Rebekah Maynes, the Ostrich, flops her huge head into the ground with style whenever feeling the need. Maliya Ojo is a ditzy Dodo, and Julia Newton is a melodramatic passenger pigeon who, when killed by a gangster, vows that her millions of descendants will live forever.  

Non-birds include some representative modern humans who had driven our two protagonists away from humans in the first place. Naira Demirchian and Eric Arami are business-types – an investment banker and lawyer who go over the mundane contract details regarding controlling a percentage of the sky, while bureaucratic Insurance Agent Jasmine Aquino tries to make sure the insurance requirements will be met. Valentina Theoharides is funny as an emotional Activist who is deeply sensitive to everything. Maliya Ojo is an internet spammer with a laptop around her neck hawking Viagra.  

And then there’s the negotiating gods. To open negotiations, Kyra Goldstein is sent first – a minor god Iris who’s a teenage goddess (compared to the other gods). She’s a hysterically bitter, chip-on-her-shoulder goth girl irritated by her rainbow-colored wings and inability to interest Apollo, gossiping about the slut Aphrodite, and nonchalantly slapping down any unwelcomed wooing by mere mortals (bragging that she once dated a guy with one hundred hands, and explaining that it was kind of like a car wash – but not in a good way). Valentina Theoharides is Prometheus, here a dainty titan who is glad to be off the cliff but still painfully growing a new liver every day. Enrique Vizcaino is Poseidon trying to keep the other gods standing strong. Eric Arami is hilarious as demigod Hercules who enters strutting to Too Sexy but gets his strongman self-image shaken when he finds out he’s a bastard demigod. And equally hilarious is Julia Newton as a Swedish barbarian goddess of small things who may just give up ultimate power to the birds for a snack/schnack.  

Performed October 16 - 18, 2014

Rob Hopper

Executive Director
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~ 

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Pithetaerus: Miles Lopez
Eulpides: Brandon Killham
Hawk: Jaylene Castro
Epops, King of the Birds: Lawrence Harris
Procne, his wife: Faina Danielian
Titmouse: Elliott Maynes
Blue-Footed Booby: Noah Weinstein
Hummingbird: Maive Czerwinski
Flamingo: Josh Johnson
Passenger Pigeon: Julia Newton
Dodo: Maliya Ojo
Kiwi: Stephen Cormier
Parrot: McKynlee Vuncannon
Crow: Lauren Yu
Bat: Maria Harris
Ostrich: Rebekah Maynes
Turkey: Jasmine Aquino
Investment Banker: Naira Demirchian
Lawyer: Eric Arami
Insurange Agent: Jasmine Aquino
Activist: Valentina Theoharides
Internet Spammer: Maliya Ojo
Iris, a minor god: Kyra Goldstein
Prometheus: Valentina Theoharides
Poseidon: Enrique Vizcaino
Hercules: Eric Arami
Mgrauchuchuk, a barbarian god: Julia Newton

Directors: Brooks & Ann Gardner
Stage Managers: Jasmine Aquino & Elizabeth Trautmann
Technical Directors: Ann Gardner & Jose Vasquez
Student Technical Director: Hunter Stockwell
Lighting Design: Jose Vasquez & Hunter Stockwell
Sound Design: Jose Vasquez & Logan Shea
Set & Prop Design: Ann Gardner
Costume Design: Ann Gardner & Louisa Vasquez
Choreography: Ann Gardner & Valentina Theoharides


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