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West Potomac High School Bye Bye Birdie

By • May 23rd, 2011 • Category: Cappies

Oh no, it’s the end of the world! Conrad Birdie, who is going to be “the hottest soldier since Joan of Arc,” is being drafted into the army and whatever are the devastated teenage girls (and mothers) of America to do? The “honestly sincere” answer was found in West Potomac High School’s peppy production of Bye Bye Birdie.

With the book penned by Michael Stewart and music and lyrics provided by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, Bye Bye Birdie bursts onto the stage as a satire of the 1950s and Elvis’ drafting into the military. As a romantic comedy, the musical was highly successful on Broadway, later spawning a London revival among other major productions, and has notably been produced as both a 1963 film and a 1995 television production. The plot centers on Sweet Apple, Ohio in 1958 after teenager Kim MacAfee is chosen to kiss drafted rock n’ roll star Conrad Birdie goodbye. Bye Bye Birdie focuses on newly pinned Kim’s troubles with her steady Hugo, whose own romance parallels Birdie’s agent Albert Peterson and his Hispanic secretary Rosie Alverez’s romantic qualms.

West Potomac’s production of Bye Bye Birdie was rooted together by consistent energy and animation, with ensemble numbers such as “Telephone Hour” and “Put on a Happy Face” showcasing strongly synchronized dance steps. Each and every member of the ensemble proved dedicated on stage whether a teenager, adult, or Shriner, allowing an amusing array of facial expressions whether fainting over Birdie, giving a hair-flip after playing guitar, or being romanced by Rosie’s “Spanish Rose” self. Harmonies were also solidly well done.

A triple threat, Burke Solo as Albert Peterson gave a performance characterized by charismatic stage presence, commendable vocals highlighted in “Baby Talk to Me,” and well executed dance jumps. A star dancer, Amanda Alves as girlfriend Rosie Alvarez, proved seductive and sassy in leg kicks, splits, and Spanish flare. Notable singers included Graham Dickerson as Conrad Birdie, showcasing fantastic vocal control, as well as the trilling soprano of Madeline Weisblatt as Kim MacAfee.

An adorable addition to the crew came from the smallest member of the MacAfee family, young son Randolph played by Aidan White. White continuously delighted as a bundle of charming energy and entertainingly pronounced facial expressions. Connor Chilton’s Mr. Harry MacAfee was humorous with crab-like physicality and solid vocals while Maggie Solo’s Mae Peterson proved laughable with clear diction and fussy mannerisms.

The production involved a variety of set pieces, including a bright multi-leveled home, bar, and town center. While the orchestra could be too loud and voices were lost, energy consistently shone. Costumes were also brightly vibrant and stayed in time period while true to character, reflecting those like Mae Peterson’s enormous, dated fur coat. While stage crew movement could occasionally be distracting, decoration such as Conrad Birdie posters proved a nice touch.

In the midst of all of those screaming girls and romantic entanglements, the cast and crew showed sweetness and humor. Although some period jokes were lost in the mix, West Potomac’s lively performance of Bye Bye Birdie certainly “got a condition” of feel good, convivial fun.

by Victoria Tovig of Langley High School

Photo Gallery

(Front row) Elizabeth Gunggoll, Katie Skinner, Emily Ustun, Lillann Pineda, Beth Burns (Back row) Matt Stover, Alex Wong, Ben Roberts (Standing) Dominic Owusu, Graham Dickerson, Toby Gabriel (Sitting) Julia Warren
(Front row) Elizabeth Gunggoll, Katie Skinner, Emily Ustun, Lillann Pineda, Beth Burns (Back row) Matt Stover, Alex Wong, Ben Roberts
(Standing) Dominic Owusu, Graham Dickerson, Toby Gabriel (Sitting) Julia Warren
Burke Solo (On Table) Evan Rajadhyaksha, Alex Wong, Matt Stover (On floor) Amanda Alves
Burke Solo
(On Table) Evan Rajadhyaksha, Alex Wong, Matt Stover (On floor) Amanda Alves

Photos by Laura Marshall

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