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Bye Bye Birdie

Bye Bye Birdie Logo

Book by Michael Stewart

Music by Charles Strouse

Lyrics by Lee Adams

Originally Produced by Edward Padula

Directed by Lisa Denman

In this captivating musical, it is 1958, and rock-and-roll hearthrob Conrad Birdie has just been drafted into the army. When his agent plans a farewell party in which Conrad will give "One Last Kiss" to a lucky fan on the Ed Sullivan Show, the trouble begins. Originally produced in 1960, with songs such as Kids, A Lot of Livin' To Do, and Put on a Happy Face, this show is pure fun from start to finish.

February 21-23, 29-March 1 at 7:30 p.m.
February 24, March 1-2 at 2 p.m.
Jones Theatre

Albert Peterson Patrick Matzig
Rose Alvarez Meredith Owens
Helen Amanda Capshaw
Nancy Emmie Rothenbach
Alice Cassie Bann
Margie (teen trio) Lindsay Christian
Freddie Adam Garst
Karl Justin Locklear
Harvey Zach Krohn
Penelope Kelly Nobles
Deborah Sue (teen trio) Louise McCartney
Ursula Merkle (teen trio) Mary Laws
Kim Macafee Kara Killmer
Mrs. Doris Macafee Elizabeth Cantrell
Mr. Harry Macafee Clay Wheeler
Mrs. Mae Peterson Lindsay Ehrhardt
Conrad Birdie Clayton Ellis
Hugo Peabody Jeff Wisnoski
Mayor and 1st customer Michael Summers
Edna (Mayor's wife) Lisa Stucker
Mrs. Merkle Marley Singletary
Randolph Macafee Brandon Woolley
Gloria Rasputin Jenny King
Mr. Johnson John Murdock
Maude Noel Collins
Maude's dishwasher and Teen Chorus Joe Shovak
Maude's Second Customer Sam Hough
Ethel and Teen Chorus Megan Moore
Phyllis and Adult Chorus Deborah Benesh
Policeman and Adult Chorus Christopher Eastland
1st Reporter and Adult Chorus Trey Jackson
2nd Reporter and Teen Chorus Callen McLaughlin
Lee and Teen Chorus Micah Gray
Sad Girl and Teen Chorus Danielle Williams

Baylor's "Bye Bye Birdie" light entertainment

By Carl Hoover, Waco Tribune-Herald
February 22, 2008

Baylor Theatre's production of "Bye Bye Birdie" aims, to paraphrase one of the musical's songs, to put on a happy face on its audience members and most left opening night on Thursday with a smile.

Solid performances by Patrick Matzig as songwriter/manager Albert Peterson and Meredith Owens as his long-suffering assistant and girlfriend Rose Alvarez propelled the musical, which zipped through two hours of bright music, light comedy and a little dancing.

The neurotic Peterson, still dominated by his forceful mother Mae (Lindsay Ehrhardt), finds the impending Army induction of his client, rock star Conrad Birdie (Clayton Reed Ellis), the death knell for his struggling music company.

Rose brainstorms a way out: Peterson writes one last song for Birdie, which he sings at a nationally televised farewell, complete with a symbolic goodbye kiss given a teen fan. Last song becomes a hit and pays off the bills, Peterson can follow his love and become an English teacher, marry Rose and leave New York's rat race for domestic contentment - at least that's Rose's plan.

The teen fan happens to be Kim MacAfee (Kara Killmer) of Sweet Apple, Ohio, newly pinned by her modest boyfriend Hugo Peabody (Jeff Wisnoski). The staged final kiss broadcast on "The Ed Sullivan Show," however, jangles the paternal calm of Kim's father Harry (Clay Wheeler), makes Hugo jealous and ends up causing a second half of relationship adjustments before a happy, but surprisingly small-scale, ending.

The Baylor musical, directed by Lisa Denman, features solid singing, adequate dancing, including an extended tap routine in "Put on a Happy Face," and several clever production numbers such as "The Telephone Hour" with 15 telephone-gabbing teens, "Honestly Sincere" where Birdie slays his Sweet Apple fans with well-placed hip shakes, a worshipful chorus praising "Ed Sullivan" and Wheeler's and Elizabeth Cantrell's enjoyable, kvetching "Kids."

Matzig and Owens sang as well as they acted with nice vocal work from teen trio Louise McCartney, Mary Laws and Lindsey Christian; a men's barroom ensemble, Killmer's Kim and Brandon Woolley as her kid brother Randolph.

Ironically, Ellis' Birdie made a stronger visual impact than vocal one, lacking the volume and sustained lines that one might expect from a rock n' roll singer; on the other hand, that fits how Birdie's portrayed in the musical, with his public "All American Boy" image undercut by his drinking, partying and actual past.

William Sherry's clean, unobtrusive set design offered a variety of scene locations without clutter and with touches of strong, but not brash color. Carl Booker's costume design captured the period, teen energy and a touch of wit.

"Bye Bye Birdie" showed its age, however, in its female characters and mild stereotypes. Rose, the most capable person in the story, wants little more than becoming Mrs. Albert Peterson. Kim professes a desire for adult independence, yet a steady boyfriend and engagement prove more important. Several jokes make fun of Rose's purported Latin heritage - she's from Allentown, Pa. - and while they're not offensive, they seem out of place.

But perhaps that's putting more weight on "Bye Bye Birdie" than it was meant to hold. In the end, it's light entertainment and that's exactly what audiences get. The first weekend's performances at Baylor's Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center are sold out, but tickets remain for next weekend's shows. Call 710-1865 for ticket information.