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Channeling the king of rock 'n' roll

Corbett Children's Theater presents '50s musical 'Bye Bye Birdie'


To prepare for his latest acting role, Aaron Logan watched Elvis movies over and over.

“I get to really embrace a side I didn’t know I had,” Logan, a 17-year-old Corbett High School senior, said with a laugh.

With slicked-back hair and a well-practiced hip thrust, Logan plays a rock ‘n’ roll singer about to be inducted into the United States Army in “Bye Bye Birdie,” opening Thursday at Corbett Children’s Theater.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - In the 1950s musical 'Bye Bye Birdie,' teenagers are thrilled by rock 'n' roll stud Conrad Birdie's (Aaron Logan) visit to Sweet Apple, Ohio.

Directed by Dr. Katherine Zieman and Holly Dearixon, the 1950s musical features more than 50 cast and crew members ages 5 to 17 in the Corbett area.

“The play is so fun and shows the excitement during the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll,” said Zieman, a veteran Corbett Children’s Theater director.

“Bye Bye Birdie” loosely follows the story of how Elvis Presley was drafted in 1957. Surrounded by media, he shipped out for Germany in 1958, but not before giving a member of The Women’s Army Corps one last kiss before he left.

Similarly, Conrad Birdie descends on Sweet Apple, Ohio, to plant one last kiss on a lucky fan, sparking excitement among local teenagers.

The directors and cast noted that, ironically, the original writers of “Bye Bye Birdie” couldn’t stand teenagers and thought the rock ‘n’ roll fad would quickly fade.

“There’s so much screaming, and it’s chaotic a lot of the time,” said Leila Gorman, a 14-year-old Corbett High School freshman who plays Kim. “There are a lot of punch lines people will remember.”

A young sophisticate, Kim is thrust into the limelight when she’s selected to receive Birdie’s kiss. There’s one complication: She just starting going steady with her boyfriend, Hugo, played by Trey Smith.

Clare Dearixon, a 14-year-old Corbett freshman, plays Deborah Sue, a know-it-all, screaming teenager, and has loved all the music and dancing in the play, especially “Telephone Hour” and “A Lot of Living to Do.”

“It’s a fun throwback to the olden days,” Dearixon said.

Jordan Fahlman, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Corbett, portrays Randolph, Kim’s mischievous younger brother.

“He annoys his parents and older sister as much as he can,” Fahlman said. “It’s going to be a fun play because I’m going to be doing science experiments with bottles.”

Fahlman said audiences would identify with the emotions of saying goodbye to someone going into the military.

“He’s leaving and a whole bunch of people are getting sad,” Fahlman said.

Ben Johnson, a 16-year-old junior, portrays Birdie’s manager, Albert.

“He was originally played by Dick Van Dyck,” Johnson said. “He’s this goofy, crazy, not realistic person, and he’s a mama’s boy,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he hoped audiences would remember teenagers can be silly and stupid but are ultimately not how the writers thought of them.

Leading the crew as stage manager is Hannah Hawley, a 15-year-old sophomore at Corbett High who enjoys working behind the scenes.

“Bye Bye Birdie” opened on Broadway in 1960 and won four Tony Awards, including best musical, in 1961.

Logan said playing Birdie is a huge highlight of his acting career. “I never thought I’d be lucky enough to get a role like this,” he said. “It’s an experience I’m glad to have, that’s for sure.”

IF YOU GO

WHO: Corbett Children’s Theater

PRESENTS: ‘Bye Bye Birdie’

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, and Friday, Jan 25; 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26; 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27

WHERE: Corbett Schools Multi-Purpose Building, 35800 E. Historic Columbia River Highway

COST: $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and students, with $2 off for matinees

INFO: 503-261-4266, www.corbettchildrenstheater.com




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