Bye Bye Birdie
by Valley Youth Theatre

Valley Youth Theatre is putting on a production of Bye Bye Birdie that is sure to make audience members Put On A Happy Face. The popular show from the Sixties is a tongue-in-cheek take on Elvis Presley, his rabid fans of teenage girls, and the public relations efforts to shape his image into a perfect, Healthy Normal American Boy.

The smooth-singing Jeffrey Reynolds stars as the main shaper of those public relations, a would-be English teacher named Albert Peterson who starts his own music company and is intent on making his star client Conrad Birdie the biggest hit in showbiz. But when Birdie gets drafted, he needs one big brainstorm to send Birdie out at the top of the charts. His long-time girlfriend/secretary Rose Alvarez has that brainstorm, and she’s willing to share it if Albert will marry her and cut his apron strings tying him to his obnoxious martyr of a mother. And if he doesn’t? Well, actress Hannah Elyse Bentley makes it abundantly clear with her seductive dancing and singing in Spanish Rose that she can have her pick of half the men in Sweet Apple, Ohio.

Said brainstorm is to have Conrad Birdie give One Last Kiss on The Ed Sullivan Show to a fan chosen at random, in this case Kim MacAfee, the fan club president of Sweet Apple who just got “pinned” by boyfriend Hugo Peabody. Sweet Apple and the MacAfee family will never be the same.

Channing Karissa Cooper lends her outstanding vocals to the role of teenager Kim MacAfee. She is surrounded by an amusing family consisting of Christopher Moffitt as little brother Randolph, Michelle Vezilj as Mrs. MacAfee, and led by the hilariously frustrated father Mr. MacAfee (Michael Margetis) who gets driven nuts and gets called “Fats” by uninvited houseguest Conrad Birdie, leading to the MacAfee family’s complaining about Kids today and wondering why can’t they be perfect in every way like they were. Only mention of an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show can soothe his soul, and Michael Margetis plays up his Sullivan appearance to the hilt.

Other highlights include Andrea Krysten Meissner as Albert’s amusingly nightmarish mother Mae Peterson, Ashley Robinette as Mae’s suggestion for Albert’s new secretary who can do the splits and anything else he may request, and Jeffrey Reynolds trying to cheer up two stubbornly sad Sad Girls (Cecilia Iole and Taylor Stephens) in the show’s signature song Put On A Happy Face.

Then, of course, there’s Conrad Birdie himself, with Matthew Crosby turning in an exceptional performance as the swaggering, swivel-hipped rock singer who is willing to let Albert and Rose speak for him to the press so long as he can soak up the praises and swoons of the young female fans. He leads them and the entire fun, energetic ensemble in such big numbers as Honestly Sincere, One Last Kiss, and A Lot of Livin’ To Do.

Director Bobb Cooper directs this light, entertaining, and highly polished production at Phoenix’s Herberger Theatre – a show that includes a live orchestra directed by Mark Fearey, impressive sets by Dori Brown, and vibrant costumes from the Sixties by Karol Cooper.

Performed June 9-25, 2006.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Payton-Teen Chorus: Hunter Beetham
Martha Louise-Teen Chorus: Madison Berry
Rosie: Hannah Bentley
Male Quartet/Adult Chorus: Justin Carpenter
Freddie-Teen Chorus: Robert Carroll
Adult Chorus: Victor Cervantes Jr.
Kim: Channing Cooper
Arthur-Teen Chorus: Matt Cordon
Conrad Birdie: Matthew Crosby
Linda-Teen Chorus: Natasha Edwards
Mayor's Wife: Melissa Eixenberger
Ursula Merkle: Kimiko Glenn
Mayor: Shawn Hathcock
Suzie-Teen Chorus: Sydney Hawes
Adult Chorus: Adrian Hernandez
Harold-Teen Chorus: Jeffrey Hollands
Nancy-Teen Chorus: Sarah Hollands
Quartet/Adult Chorus: Tom Holmberg
Sad Girl: Cecilia Iole
Adult Chorus: Kelsey Johnson
Karl-Adult Chorus: Christopher Kelley
Children's Chorus: Alexander Khan
Adult Chorus: Lauren LaFave
Male Quartet/Adult Chorus: Eddie Maldonado
Harry Macafee: Michael Margetis
Doris-Teen Chorus: Christine Margo
Children's Chorus: Amanda Martinez
Children's Chorus: Michael Martinez
Mae Peterson: Andrea Meissner
Harvy Johnson-Teen Chorus: Todd Moellenberg
Randolph: Christopher Moffitt
Hugo Peabody: Dallas Mogensen
Mrs. Merkel: Shannon Mullins
Penelope-Teen Chorus: Elizabeth Paffenbarger
Helen-Teen Chorus: Amanda Parsons
Potsey-Teen Chorus: Bryon Ponton
Richie-Teen Chorus: Brett Ponton
Adult Chorus: Emily Price
Children's Chorus: Robert Ramirez
Maude-Adult Chorus: Justin Rapp
Albert Petersen: Jeff Reynolds
Gloria: Ashley Robinette
Adult Chorus: Kim Sheperd
Mr. Johnson: Josh Sherrill
Deborah Sue-Teen chorus: Krysten Smalley
Sad Girl: Taylor Stephens
Adult Chorus: Megan Stoner
Mrs. Macafee: Michelle Vezilj
Alice-Teen Chorus: Ashley Waggoner
Margie Ann-Teen Chorus: Stefani Wood

Director: Bobb Cooper
Musical Direction: Mark Fearey
Choreography: Katie Rex
Costume Design: Karol Cooper
Scenic Design: Dori Brown
Lighting Design: Michael Eddy
Sound Design: Dave Temby


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