The Arlington Players Bye Bye BirdieBy Mari Davis • Sep 23rd, 2009 • Category: Reviews
The Arlington Players
Thomas Jefferson Community Center, Arlington, VA
Through October 3rd
$20/$15 Seniors and Juniors
2:30, with one intermission
Reviewed September 18th, 2009
The Arlington Players’ (TAP) musical production of Bye Bye Birdie was entertaining and fun. The visuals in this production were especially enjoyable because of the dimension and color in the complimenting costumes and sets. The music was quite good for this production and featured a live, eighteen piece orchestra. Actors carried the play well and gave good performances.
Bye Bye Birdie is a musical set in the 1950’s and revolves around Albert Peterson, a failing music producer, and Rosie Alvarez, his resourceful secretary. In an effort to keep their business afloat, they draw the name of young Kim MacAfee who will publicly receive a kiss from teen-idol Conrad Birdie before he leaves for war. How this comic story will resolve what with kids these days, their parents, and all sorts of romantic misadventures is a question only Bye Bye Birdie can answer.
I have to let my inner fashionista come out right off the bat. The very first thing I fell in love with about this production was the costume design by Lory Levitt and Irene Molnar. Each costume perfectly suited its character. Bright colors for the kids, tweed jackets for the grown-ups, shiny suits for Birdie, and the hats! Oh my goodness- the hats! I was always eager to see the styles in the next scene.
Another visual aspect of this production that I appreciated was the set design by Amanda Acker. Her sets were well constructed and seemed very user friendly. Each scene was changed by cast members on a dim stage. The set construction was neither overwhelming nor underwhelming and employed good use of color and dimension.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of TAC’s orchestra, conducted by David Rohde. There were moments of dissonance, but otherwise the music was very good for a community theater. I was especially pleased by the balanced volume of the ensemble. The vocalists were also decent for a community production. I enjoyed every soloist, but group numbers did not always blend well. Soloists could be more dynamic in their vocal performance. The sound crew generally did a good job, but the mics were too quiet on several solos in both acts.
This cast featured many seasoned stage veterans as well as a few fresh talents. Act I had good energy, but felt very static. The dynamics picked up in Act II which was very enjoyable. The audience was not very responsive that night, which may have caused the pace to lag.
Anne Marie Pinto‘s portrayal of Rosie Alvarez was the highlight of my evening, by far (well, after the vintage hats). I had question marks in my mind at first, but she pulled her character together very well by the end. As an actress, she was superb. Her singing, while technically very good, was lacking in dynamic presentation. Her performance of “Spanish Rose” was very promising, but it didn’t have the “oomph” that would have made it truly spectacular. Again, I wonder if this just goes back to lack of audience feedback.
Chris Gillespie played Rosie’s long-time love interest, Albert Peterson. Their chemistry together was terrific throughout music and dialogue. Gillespie managed to balance the dual elements of “mama’s boy” and “corporate exec” nicely. His character was very likeable and funny.
Jordan Hougham played Kim McAfee, the lucky girl who won Birdie’s “goodbye kiss.” I wondered at first if it wouldn’t detract from the play to have a grown woman playing the role of a fifteen year-old girl. No worries there! Hougham’s presentation was excellent. Her vocals were delightful and her characterization of a very young woman was terrific.
The girls in the Teen Ensemble (Cody Boehm, Abby Booker, Paige Horwitz, Chanukah Lilburne, June Schreiner) perfectly epitomized the idol-obsessed fangirl, almost uncannily so. Fortunately, while the girls were gushy and loud, their performances were not overly obnoxious. This is a huge blessing for those who live with loud children already. Worthy of special mention was June Schreiner (Ursula Merkle) whose performance was energetic and engaging throughout the evening.
Overall, The Arlington Player’s production of Bye Bye Birdie is definitely worth the money to see if you like vintage costuming and creative set design. The musical and dramatic performances are good, featuring some fine local talent.
Photos by Michael deBlois.
- Albert Peterson: Chris Gillespie
- Rosie Alvarez: Anne Marie Pinto
- Harvey Johnson: Tommy Wilson
- Nancy: Cody Boehm
- Ursula Merkle: June Schreiner
- Kim MacAfee: Jordan Hougham
- Doris MacAfee: Melissa E. Stamps
- Harry MacAfee: Allen McRae
- Mae Peterson: Kat Brais
- Conrad Birdie: Michael Bigley
- Hugo Peabody: Michael McAdoo
- Mayor: Joseph LeBlanc
- Randolph MacAfee: Jonas Ventimiglia
- Gloria Rasputin: Cassandra Hodziewich
- Maude: Mark Lewis
- Shriners: Francis Gutierrez, Jim Holland, Jospeh LeBlanc, Mark Lewis, Allan McRae
- Teen Ensemble: Chris Beatley, Cody Boehm, Abby Booker,
- Devin Dasbach, Page Horwitz, Christian Huley,
- Davis Alexander James, Chanukah Jane Lilburne,
- June Schreiner & Tommy Wilson
- Adult Ensemble: Francis Gutierrez, Jim Holland, Jean Koppen,
- Angelena LeBlanc, Joseph LeBlanc, Mark Lewis,
- Amanda Lipon & Liz Sabin
- Executive Producer/Technical Director: Amanda Acker
- Director & Co-Choreographer: Lisa Anne Bailey
- Music Director: David Rohde
- Co-Choreographer: Lauren Sinsheimer
- Stage Manager: Christopher Smith
- Set Design: Amanda Acker
- Set Painting: Adam Hutton
- Lighting Design: Ryan Desmond
- Costume Design: Lory Levitt & Irene Molnar
- Set Dressing/Properties: Becky Pomarzynski
- Sound Design: Chris Kagy
- Master Carpenter: Pete Silvia
- Make Up & Hair Design: Kat Brais
- Fly Rail Chief: Bill Wisniewski
- Assistant Stage Managers: Meghann KP Courter, Ashley Johnson
- Set Construction Crew: Rick Albani, Hank Drahos, Michael deBlois, Peter Finkel, Richard Garey, Ernst Harmse, William Kolodrubetz, Arthur Pleasants, Bob Timmerman, Bill Wisniewski
- Charge Painters: Karinn Cologne, Barbara Esquibel, Denis Harootunian, Nikki Hoffpauir, Sandy Kozel, Beach Lagassa, Katie Lewis, Ellie Lockwood, Jennifer Strand, Kristin Visaggio, Bill Wisniewski
- Costume Crew: Barbara Esquibel, Dinah Green, Ellie Lockwood, Jennifer Strand
- Wardrobe: Kristin Visaggio, Beach Lagassa
- Stage Crew: Amanda Acker, Jessica Bates, Chesa Blanton-Harris, Scott Drew, Lindsey Hays, James Villarrubia, Steven Yates
- Light Crew: Joni Hughes
- Follow Spot: Jennifer Graber, Elita Jenks, Jaun Felipe Rincon
- Sound Crew: Jeremy Austin, Keith Bell, Michael Bruno, Paul H. Parry
- Fly Crew: Bill Rippey, Bob Timmerman
- Audition Pianists: Becki Jones, Brian Victor
- Auditions: Kat Brais, Jason Langley, Irene Molnar, Becky Pomarzynski, Kristin Visaggio
- Photography: Michael deBlois
- Lobby Display: Chinyere Abosi, Dan Yount, Katja Yount
- Program: John Monnett, Dave Moretti
- Logo Design: Katje Yount
- Box Office: Chinyere Abosi
- Opening Night Party: Barbara Esquibel, Mark Lewis
- Conductor: David Rohde
- Violin: Marsha McIntyre, Steve Natrella, Michele Jacobs
- Cello: Virginia Gardner
- Reeds: Gwyn Jones, Mitch Bassman, Dana Gardner, Randy Dahlberg, Jane Hughes
- Trumpet: Daniel Lee, Paul Weiss, Dave Shuma
- Trombone: Eric Lindberg
- French Horn: Deb Kline
- Piano: Addie Edelson
- Guitar: Rick Peralter
- Bass: Rob Weaver
- Percussion: Jim Hofmann
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/4199.
Mari Davis is a student of Speech and Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She has been involved in the performing arts since the age of five when she debuted as the Little Red Hen on an elementary school stage. Her career includes both national and international ensemble performances with semi-professional choirs, various roles in community and college musicals (both onstage and off), as well as co-directing drama camp for Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.