Woodbridge Senior High School Bye Bye BirdieBy Cappies • Apr 21st, 2014 • Category: Cappies
Sweet Apple, Ohio suddenly explodes into a flurry of excitement and terror: parents are cringing, children are squealing, and teenage girls are fainting. What could cause such a dramatic uproar in this quaint little town? The only reasonable possibility, of course! Conrad Birdie, America’s superstar, graces the rustic Midwest with his far-reaching presence before leaving the country to join the war. Woodbridge Senior High School transported its audiences to the iconic 1950’s with its popping rendition of Bye Bye Birdie, full of neon colors, swanky dance moves, and outrageous personalities.
Written in 1960 by Michael Stewart, Charles Strouse, and Lee Adams, Bye Bye Birdie follows one small town’s experiences as an iconic superstar, Conrad Birdie, grants one final kiss before journeying overseas to join the war. After opening on Broadway in 1960, this timeless production quickly gained accolades across the globe, resulting in a London production, a 1963 movie, and a 1965 television interpretation. The plot hones in on several specific characters, shining a light on 1950’s lifestyle that provides a more accurate perspective than many satirical works on this era.
The leading members of Woodbridge’s cast charged the production with an emotional journey that provided an added layer to the school’s interpretation. Austin Hurlbrink (Albert Peterson) used his lanky structure to his advantage, developing an awkward physicality that enhanced his character’s uneasiness and insecurity to generate countless comedic moments. Hurlbrink’s interactions with his cast mates, especially Victoria Unterberger (Rosie Alvarez) enriched his earnestness. As Hurlbrink transformed into a subservient weakling under Unterberger’s oppressing glares, both actors displayed an impressive level of characterization and interaction.
Bye Bye Birdie also presents fruitful opportunities for actors to embody larger-than-life personalities. As the silky smooth and outrageously handsome superstar, Aidan Houston (Conrad Birdie) entranced viewers with his popping facial expressions and stylistic dance moves. Challenged by a substantial amount of stage time without speaking lines, Houston’s physical characterization successfully represented the stereotypical rock star in a comedic light. His boundless energy circulated throughout the entire cast, highlighting show-stopping dance numbers like “Honestly Sincere” and “A Lot of Living to Do.”
While each principal character developed a unique persona that lit up the stage, the supporting actors truly embodied the iconic caricatures of the 1950’s lifestyle. Danny Waldman (Mr. Harry MacAfee) and Jordan Frederick (Mrs. Doris MacAfee) delivered a spot-on interpretation of the bumbling and clueless parents that characterize this decade. The audience erupted into side-splitting laughter as Waldman packed an extra punch to each of the disgruntled father’s comedic moments, but a hush spread through the auditorium when Waldman eased out his first vocal solos, serenading listeners with his lush tone and rich vibrato.
Such an explosive musical requires substantial support from the technical crews to energize the audience and Woodbridge Senior High School’s crews certainly surpassed the challenges that Bye Bye Birdie presents. Most impressive was the extensive collaboration that clearly took place among the various crews, specifically among lighting, costumes, and sets. The color scheme, full of bright and pleasing shades, helped establish the joyful and upbeat mood that the 1950’s is remembered for, despite some distracting contemporary costume pieces.
Overall, Woodbridge Senior High School’s specialized ensembles of singers, actors, and dancers presented a radiant representation of the 1950’s in the way that Stewart had intended. By the end of the musical, the cast’s enthusiasm and commitment had the audience grinning for miles as we all “put on a happy face!”
by Wesley Diener of James Madison HS
Photos by Michele Powell
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/10348.