What do you get when you mix a dash of movie magic with a healthy all-American dose of theatrical drama and sprinkle in some live television courtesy of Ed Sullivan? One truly entertaining night at the Town and Country Players’ production of BYE BYE BIRDIE.
This night of reviewing was extra special as I was joined by my niece and grandmother, allowing me to also see the play through the eyes of the young, and the young at heart. I knew it would be an interesting evening when asked by my six-year-old date, “So who plays the birdie?”
The prologue to the play is creatively filmed as Conrad Birdie (Patrick Brown) makes his way to the T&C theater. Interesting camera angles and period background music gives a great introduction. The only thing is, we don’t actually see Conrad arrive in person until the middle of Act 1. The prologue ends on a high note with live music filling the theater, accompanying a lovely mix of young female voices pledging their love to their one and only Conrad.
The strong opening is followed by wit and laughter as Rosie (Jessica Laynor) dreams of one day becoming an English teacher’s wife, how quaint. However, Albert (John Newman), the teacher in question, has more pressing issues to deal with, such as the career of teen crooner and hot-commodity-client, Conrad Birdie.
Throughout the show, Laynor and Newman give polished performances, showing a decent range of emotional highs and lows. Both also show off their ability to sing and dance, making them viable triple threats.
Other stand-out talents include Dana-Joy Carducci, who plays Kim MacAfee, and certainly acts like a typical teen, but whose voice and dance techniques are much more mature. Then there’s Kallie Cooper, who plays Ursula, and can scream like a banshee while still keeping an air of honest sincerity about her. I give her credit for being able to completely let herself go on the steps of the courthouse in front her “idol” and the rest of the audience. But leave it to Mama to steal the show. Mrs. Mae Peterson (Valerie Sharper) has it all, brassiness, classiness, and enough wit to save the second act. Sharper steals whatever scene she’s in, but when it came to “A Mother Doesn’t Matter Anymore”, she shows off more than just her comedic timing. It was like having a front seat on Broadway listening to Mama’s melodic disappointment in her son.
Overall, the cast and crew did an excellent job using the space available to put on this performance. From the stage, to the balcony, to the isles, each angle was covered. The choreography was above and beyond standard community theater step, touch, clap, and the pubescent vocals really cracked, I mean shined. Together, the girls were able to pull off the perfect pitch of girliness mixed with boy craziness, and the boys, well I give them points for participation.
If you’re looking for an entertaining evening for the entire family, say hello to BYE BYE BIRDIE at Town and Country. Be aware, it may make you scream with delight.
BYE BYE BIRDIE
Book by Michael Stewart
Lyrics by Lee Adams
Music by Charles Strouse
Directed by Nancy Ridgeway
Musical Direction by Joe Nappi
July 8 – 23, 2011
Town and Country Players
4158 York Road
Buckingham, PA 18912