By EVAN CUTLER
Bye Bye Birdie is a stage musical based on a book written by Michael Stewart. It was originally published in 1960, with the music by Charles Strouse and the lyrics written by Lee Adams. The musical was performed by Bellefonte Area High School Drama Club on April 21-23 for their annual spring musical show this year, with this year’s performances being the first “normal” performances since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.
The story follows Conrad Birdie (played by sophomore Sam Henry), a rock-and-roll singer who is being inducted into the army. But before he leaves, he will give one final performance, where he will bestow a kiss to one girl in the “Conrad Birdie Fan Club.” Members of the “Conrad Birdie Fan Club” compete to win this famed kiss. His managers pick Kim MacAffee (sophomore Kate Harman), from Sweet Apple, Ohio. The town buzzes through fans who won’t stop swooning over Conrad. It is decided that the kiss will be on the Ed Sullivan Show. What can possibly go wrong?
Birdie is heavily inspired by Elvis Presley when he went into the army. The movement of Conrad as the cool heartthrob rockstar is integral to the character and Sam pulls it off well. It is supposed to be similar, but not identical to, Elvis. He also is, outside of the facade, supposed to be rude, arrogant, and apathetic towards others. This was Sam’s first appearance on the BAHS stage.
“I have sung in choir most of my school years, so I always sang in a group of people, but since it was just me singing it was a lot different. And for the first couple weeks of auditions I was a little nervous. But that was that. I loved being in front of an audience. It was really fun,” Sam said.
The show also includes storylines following the relationship of Kim and her “steady,” Hugo Peabody (played by junior Noah Aberegg), as well as the complicated romance of Rosie Alvarez (played by junior Cecilia Mazzocco) and Albert Peterson (played by junior Caden Guizar).
“It was a great experience from the very talented and kind people to work with to the fun memories and just overall great art being made,” Cecilia said.
Choir teacher and Director Mr. Eric Brinser oversees the musical productions.
“Everyone worked very hard, and the result was excellent,” Mr. Brinser said.
According to the Altoona Community Theatre, the Bellefonte Theatre Production is currently nominated for eight Isaac Awards, an award show held for high school theater students in the Central PA region. These categories are Lead Actor in a Female Role (Cecilia Mazzocco as Rose Alvarez), Best Featured Actor (Hannah Coslo as Mae Peterson), Best Dance/Dancer (“Put on a Happy Face”), Best Ensemble (The Shriners), Achievement in Design (Max McKenrick), Student Choreographer (Cecilia Mazzocco), Best Student Stage Crew, and Best Production.
The nominations were used to show great quality in the play, including doing this production during th COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was thrilled to hear about my nomination. This is the career I want to go into (performing, that is) and it felt so validating to see myself nominated for something I absolutely love,” Cecilia said.
With this being the last musical performance for the 2021-2022 school year, there will be some seniors leaving the Drama Club, including, Rebekah Anthony, David Galchenko, Taylor Malloy, Rebecca Methven, Nicholas Mitchell, Emma Shawley, Amy Shearer, Claire Topper, and Student Director Jace Beauton. All of them will be missed for their talent, hard work, and character.
“Working with this cast was such a wonderful experience. I had so much fun directing the show and even being in one of the scenes. These people put so much hard work into this show, their effort got them several Isaac’s nominations and I am so proud of everyone. I am sad that it is over, but happy that it happened. If given the chance, I would do it all over again,” Jace said.