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'Bye, Bye Birdie' is flying in to Lakeridge

School's fall musical opens next week

Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Abby Zink plays Rosie Alvarez, one of the principal characters in Bye, Bye Birdie, which opens at Lakeridge on Nov. 6.Say “hello” to “Bye, Bye Birdie,” the comic homage to the U.S. Army drafting Elvis Presley, which opens next week at Lakeridge High School.

The annual fall musical at Lakeridge is among the biggest productions students perform during the year. Representatives from the show are local stars, forming a small, sign-waving crowd that marches in the homecoming parade. That group of marchers is but a sliver of the people who make the show happen.

The idea behind many student musicals is to include as many kids as possible, and “Birdie,” which opens Nov. 6, is no exception.Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Devoted fan Kim MacAfee snuggles up to pop star Conrad Birdie in Lakeridges production of Bye, Bye Birdie.

“I chose ‘Bye, Bye Birdie’ for several reasons,” said Andy Ballnik, Lakeridge drama teacher and the production’s director. “I wanted to do a show that had a female lead character (Rosie Alvarez) as opposed to last year's show, which had a male lead. I wanted to do a show that could facilitate a large cast. Also, the songs are fairly recognizable (‘Put on a Happy Face’ is a standard), and the show in itself is just a lot of fun.”

In the school’s show, there are 17 speaking roles, a singing quartet, two featured dancers and 34 teens who make up the crowd. There’s some overlap there, and those numbers don’t include the 26 student crew members providing tech support such as operating the lights and the sound system. Overall that’s about 7 percent of the about 1,130 students who attend Lakeridge. Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Mrs. Doris MacAfee (Alexa Aldridge) and husband Harry MacAfee (Lucas Friedman) practice a number for Bye,Bye Birdie.

“We have an awesome cast this year, and we have put in a lot of hard work,” said Erik Baun, a senior who plays the show’s Presley-esque pop star, Conrad Birdie.

Those figures don’t even factor in the teens’ supporters, such as parent volunteers who make costumes and accommodating friends. One of the shows’ principals, Abby Spear, is working hard to prep for every scene, and she’s gotten quite a bit of help, “I do a lot of having my friends read lines with me. They’re kind of getting annoyed with it.”

Yet, that hasn’t stopped them from lending a hand on a regular basis. She said she practices not just during rehearsal after school but whenever she has free time: at lunch, during breaks.

The Lakeridge junior’s character is Kim MacAfee, the fan chosen to kiss Birdie during a climactic scene; MacAfee stands onstage with the pop icon on the “The Ed Sullivan Show” when the singer performs “One Last Kiss.” Birdie, named for one-time singing sensation Conway Twitty, is to bid a symbolic farewell to all his fans when he gives MacAfee a smooch — or, at least, that’s how it’s supposed to work out. Meanwhile, young girls throughout the scene on “Ed Sullivan” and the whole production are shrieking and yearning for Birdie, whose role calls for the charisma of the King.

I “have been watching videos and trying to recreate his stage presence,” Baun said.Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Albert Peterson (Connor Hughes) and Harry MacAfee  
(Lucas Friedman) are among the major roles in Lakeridges upcoming musical.

Birdie’s appearance on “Ed Sullivan” is the result of the collaboration of unsuccessful songwriter Albert Peterson (Connor Hughes) and his girlfriend and secretary Rosie Alvarez (Abby Zink), who valiantly strives to bolster Peterson’s floundering career.

Peterson’s flamboyant mother, Mae Peterson, is not fond of Alvarez and seeks to derail her son’s relationship with her. Senior Nora Cyganiak says taking on the character of Mae Peterson, a diva and former Vaudeville star, is really fun.

“She’s such a big personality that I get to really play with it and make it big and out there, and I don’t really have to worry about overacting,” Cyganiak said. Zink’s also reveling in playing the implacable Alvarez.

“I’ve really tried to harness her spunk but also do it in my own way,” said Zink, a senior.

She’s been studying how actress Janet Leigh portrayed the character in the 1963 movie (in which the character’s name is Rosie DeLeon), and Leigh, best known for her role in “Psycho,” has impressed Zink.

I like “how she really brings energy and excitement to her lines, and her delivery taught me how I need to be big on stage for this role,” Zink said.

She also appreciates how Ballnik has created a more black-and-gray tone for New York scenes but used more colors and pastels for scenes in MacAfee’s hometown of Sweet Apple, Ohio.

“That’s a smart artistic decision by the director, and I think it’s very interesting,” Zink said.

She said people should come see this “very iconic high school teen production,” which “features a lot of energy and is overall very exciting and has good humor and good music.”


When: 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 6, Nov. 8, Nov. 13 and Nov. 15; matinees at 2 p.m. on Nov. 8 and Nov. 15

Where: Lakeridge High School auditorium, 1235 Overlook Drive

Cost: $12 for adults; $10 for seniors 55 and older and students; $8 with an Associated Student Body card.

To buy advance tickets, visit lrhs.tix.com.

By Jillian Daley
503-636-1281, ext. 109
email: jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com
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