The musical, BYE, BYE BIRDIE, performed by the Bridge Players Theatre Company, opened on May 4 and is playing for one more week end through May 20, concluding the group’s typical four-show season of performances which ends in May because of the lack of a performing space with central air conditioning.
Because BIRDIE has a large cast of adults and children, it is a favorite of performing groups everywhere. Audiences continue to attend this show in droves to see their family members and friends.
Friday night in the parish hall of Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington, NJ, was no exception. In spite of having to sit on pillowed folding chairs; in spite of limited parking spaces, and of rather warm temperatures, the nearly 150 seats were filled with appreciative, applauding and cheering audience members.
Director Maureen Broadbent skillfully moved 37 singers/actors around the stage and through the audience with the help of assistant director Stewart Ayers and choreographer Kat Ross and 9 other assistants to the directors, including costumers and crew members, while five excellent musicians played a lively, happy production.
This musical has a thin story line about the craziness of teenagers idolizing a rock star, the suffering of well-intentioned parents, and a love-hate relationship of an adult couple with the man still too much under the influence of his oppressive mother.
There’s lots of singing and dancing — ”Put On a Happy Face,” “One Boy,” “I’ve Got A lot of Living to do” … almost all of which is done very well.
Several stand-out performances are given: Vicky Czarnik is really good as “Spanish” Rose Alvarez. She sings, dances, and acts quite well. She and co-star Ken Marblestone, as sometimes wimpy Albert Peterson, work well together on stage as they sing and dance their way through their conflicted, complicated relationship.
Marissa DiPilla’s singing as Kim MacAfee shows her trained vocal experience, and Tim Sagges as Harry MacAfee is especially funny with excellent timing and facial expressions.
The teen chorus was wonderfully energetic and happy, setting the right tone and pace for the show from the opening.
Playing rock star Conrad Birdie is Steve Kumke, whose appearance shows his profession, that of fitness trainer for a local health club. What a “hunk!” No wonder the teens (and some adults) were wild for him!
Space will not permit mentioning everyone in the show. Leads and chorus alike all did a terrific job and should feel pleased with the results.
Also to be commended is the Bridge Street Players Theatre organization for the extra efforts they make to foster diversity and to be inclusive of visually and hearing-impaired audience members.
BYE BYE BIRDIE
Directed by Maureen Broadbent
May 4-20, 2012
Bridge Players Theatre
at The Broad Street United Methodist Church