Venture Theatre Company presents a story straight out of the 1950s: ”Bye Bye Birdie.”
Rock star Conrad Birdie is heading into the Army, leaving his own army of heartbroken teenage girls behind him. Albert (his manager) and Rosie (Albert’s longtime girlfriend) plan for Conrad to kiss one of these girls, Kim MacAfee, in order to send him off in glory and allow themselves to return to a normal life as an English teacher and his wife.
However, Hugo, Kim’s recent boyfriend, has other ideas.
“Bye Bye Birdie” has two main themes: relationships and growing up. Stacy Swapp, the producer at Venture High School, says, “In ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ you see the dynamics of not only teenagers and parents, but also the differences in patience between members of a courting relationship, the layers of in-law relationships and also the influence (whether earned or not) of ‘star power.’”
The musical, which first opened on Broadway in 1960, is a coming-of-age story as well. It teaches how important it is to grow up at the right time, and represents this through multiple characters.
The two characters who show this best are Kim and Albert. Kim, a high school student, wants to grow up as quickly as possible. However, she learns that what she thinks she wants — that is, to be a fully grown woman now — may not be what she’s actually looking for.
Albert, on the other hand, has spent far too long on the opposite side. He’s a 33-year-old mama’s boy, and he has to learn how to do the growing up he should have done long before.
Overall, the Venture High cast is very excited and has been growing along with the show and its characters.
“This cast is getting their chance to step up and they are definitely rising to the occasion,” Swapp said.
Paula Isaacson, the director, said, “The cast has been wonderful to work with! Every day at rehearsal, I see new fun things happening on the stage, little nuances coming out of the characters — it’s exciting to watch!”
Many of the cast members said that a part of the show that has been difficult but fun was the multiple large dancing numbers. They mentioned that they liked this opportunity to try more difficult kinds of dances than our theater company has ever tried before. In particular, there’s a scene called ”A Lot of Livin’ To Do” for which the cast got to learn swing dancing.
Naya Uhlmansiek, one of the swing dancers, said she was scared but excited when she and others learned the dance at first, and she enjoys this opportunity to try the new dance.
The “Bye Bye Birdie” music, Isaacson said, “just makes you want to get up and dance! You’ll be humming these tunes long after the show is over!”
So, for a fun-filled night guaranteed to have you dancing in your seat, come see this production of “Bye Bye Birdie!”
The show opens Friday, Feb. 27, and continues Feb. 28-29 and March 5-7. Showtimes are 7 p.m. nightly and also 2 p.m. Feb. 29 and March 7. Tickets are $10 general admission and $8 for students and may be purchased at venturelearning.org.