Entertaining, hilarious and impressive are a few words that come to mind after watching the Buena Vista High School Drama production of Bye Bye Birdie.
Director Tanner O’Harah said he cast the musical after winter break. The production includes 28 actors and 8 crew members, and everyone sings and dances, usually at the same time. There is a full orchestra comprised mostly of professional musicians from the community. Their stellar performance is enough reason to go see the play this weekend.
Bye Bye Birdie will be performed in the Buena Vista Middle School Gym at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Albert Peterson opens the show on the phone, talking about Conrad Birdie (a dig on the famous musician Conway Twitty) being drafted into the Army. The musical is loosely based on Elvis Presley and his being drafted into the Army in 1958. Albert is Conrad’s manager.
Dylan Brunell portrays Albert to a “T.” His voice is impeccable, his dancing is on point, and his stage presence is exemplary. Brunell is always in control – of his voice, his movements and his many facial expressions. He is fun to watch. Rosie, played by Abeni Williams, is Albert’s love interest and secretary at his music business, Al Mae Lou. Williams is a captivating actress, especially when she dances with a suitcase. She is charming and likable. Williams has several solo songs and she holds center stage with grace and skill.
Two plot lines run parallel, Albert in New York, worrying over how to make money before his cash cow goes into the Army for 2 years, and the lives of Conrad-obsessed teenagers in Sweet Apple, Ohio. The two plots intertwine when Rosie comes up with a money-raising scheme to have Birdie kiss a teen fan before departing to the Army. The winning teen happens to be Kim MacAfee, a 15-year-old who recently started “going steady” with a local boy. Kathryn Jordan, with an exceptional voice and natural ability, plays Kim.
Kim’s newly acquired “going steady” is Hugo, played by Aidan Mattson. Mattson is perfectly cast to play the seeming opposite of Conrad. Awkward and shy, Mattson has a few choice lines. One being: “No, I’m not jealous. I’m the opposite of jealous. I’m very jealous.”
Tatianna Popovich plays Albert’s mother, Mrs. Mae Peterson. Popovich’s version of the overbearing, overdramatic New York mother is hilarious. Her timing is magnificent and her one-liners punchy. When Popovich makes her entrances, all eyes are on her as she delivers lines like, “Nothings the matter, you just killed me, that’s all.”
Kim’s father, Mr. Harry MacAfee, is played by Cy Reano. Reano is highly entertaining as the angry, wildly gesturing father figure. Hayden Gibb plays Mrs. Dorris MacAfee. Her role is more supportive in nature, but her voice is clear and her part well-played. Cooper Armstrong plays the object of affection, Conrad. His body language is spot-on, while his lines are few and far between – his “eye-candy” role is fitting. Plus, his gyrating hips are perfectly comical.
The rest of the cast is superb. They sing, dance and stay in character throughout. Last, but certainly not least, the set, made by Jim Reed, is spectacular, elaborate, colorful and animated. If it’s not clear yet, this is a must-see production. A lot of hard work went into it, and the cast and crew deserve a packed house at every performance.
Tickets are available at the Buena Vista High School front office – $3 for students, $8 for adults – or at the door – $5 for students and $10 for adults.