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Conrad Birdie comes to Emerald Ridge

Spring musical “Bye Bye Birdie” makes a hip-swinging, fan-girling, romantic and dynamic debut as title character Birdie chooses a lucky girl to receive one last kiss prior to going off to war

Senior+Gavin+Maher+playing+Mr.+MacAfee+and+senior+Marissa+Fowles+standing+in+for+the+normal+Mrs.+MacAfee%2C+senior+Rhyan+Cockrell.
Senior Gavin Maher playing Mr. MacAfee and senior Marissa Fowles standing in for the normal Mrs. MacAfee, senior Rhyan Cockrell.

Senior Gavin Maher playing Mr. MacAfee and senior Marissa Fowles standing in for the normal Mrs. MacAfee, senior Rhyan Cockrell.

Jordan Bowers

Jordan Bowers

Senior Gavin Maher playing Mr. MacAfee and senior Marissa Fowles standing in for the normal Mrs. MacAfee, senior Rhyan Cockrell.

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Skirts are twirling, legs are kicking and voices are loud and proud. Say hey, hey, hey to “Bye Bye Birdie,” the spring musical. With a colorful set, amazing actors and a brilliant stage manager and director, ER makes sure that they put on a show like no other.

Shown in late February and early March, the spring musical was fantastic. With practice starting in December, the cast practiced for almost three months to prepare for this incredible show. Drama teacher and director of “Bye Bye Birdie”, Chris Tavern, likes to do patterns with the plays and musicals. One year he might do something classic, usually something from the ‘50s or ‘60s, and then the next year do something modern. Last year he decided to do an adaptation of “Shrek” for the musical, which is more modern, and was a huge success. But Tavern isn’t the only one who has a say in what gets put on for the plays and musicals. Choir teacher Kurt McKee and band teacher Scott Fry also have as say in what gets put on.

With practice starting in December, the cast practiced for almost three months to prepare for this incredible show.”

“When I choose a play I don’t have to talk to other people, it’s just me choosing,” Tavern said. “With the musical, we pick it as a trio.”

The original “Bye Bye Birdie” Broadway musical came out in 1958 and is centered around an Elvis Presley-like character. It’s about how he gets drafted into a war, which actually happened to Elvis. The character himself is not Elvis, but a representation of him.

“Bye Bye Birdie” the musical has a very large cast, which could be hard to work with. The stage space management was a bit of an issue, but after a few rehearsals they were able to find what looked good and fit on stage. Not only was it hard to get people and props in the right places, but they had to do the same thing with the dance numbers. They had to make the dancing look smooth and not so crowded.

“There are good humans that are in the cast and they are getting along with everyone, and they are committed to the play which helps a lot,” Tavern said.

Full of romance, humorous moments, and hysterical dance numbers, “Bye Bye Birdie” had everyone laughing their hearts out. With a full house, everyone was captivated by the cast’s wonderful singing and dancing. The goofy romance between the characters Kim McAfee, played by senior Karly Absher and Hugo Peabody played by junior Alex Shearer, and the struggle to find love with Rosie Alvarez and Albert J. Petterson had everyone giddy and hoping for a happy ending.

After every musical number, everyone was practically jumping out of their seats for a standing ovation, which they got at the end of the performance. Everyone loved how chipper and upbeat the musical was, but everyone got chills down their spine when the musical took a dark turn as Rosie plotted her revenge and thought of numerous ways to murder her love interest, Albert J. Petterson. Everyone in the audience couldn’t stop talking about it, even after the performance was over. With Mae Petterson throwing what the audience called a “tizzy fit” over the fact that Albert wanted to be with Rosie and close down the business, everyone applauded senior Jenna Davis. Even though the whole crowd was amazed by the amazing performance of the entire cast, every girl was head over heals for Conrad Birdie’s, played by senior Matthew Kushe, beautiful voice and amazing dancing that had them all smitten, taking everything they had to stay in their seats.

Even though the musical was phenomenal, there have been some mishaps and difficulties getting ready, which is expected for any production. For other musicals they always had a track that they would rehearse to. “Bye Bye Birdie” did not have that. They had to tweak some music on the internet and compiled what they needed. Other than the small difficulties, there weren’t any technical issues.
It turns out that there were more than a few interesting moments during rehearsals. Senior Rhyan Cockrell, who played the supporting role of Mrs. Doris MacAfee, commented that there is a lot of screaming and falling down involved, and that Kusche, as Conrad, had to swing his hips a lot, and he went around smacking people’s butts.

“Being in the musical is a lot like lying, but instead of getting in trouble for it, people laugh at you,” senior Ethan Widerspan said, who played the role of Albert J. Petterson.

Junior Richard Klem, who played the role of a reporter, also added that it is a great way to meet people and everyone loves what they are doing.

“We all get along great, but sometimes it’s hard to focus,” junior Dana Montevideo said, who played the role of a reporter. “We still get stuff done though.”

Tavern has commented on what it’s like to work with the students for the play, but the students have a few words to say about Tavern as well.

“He’s really dedicated to what he does,” Cockrell said. “He doesn’t go for good, he goes for the best.”

 Tavern also believes that people know the kind of stuff ER does, and that it’s top quality. Even if they aren’t familiar with the story “Bye Bye Birdie”, he believed people would still come and see it. Beautiful romance, lovely voices reaching far and wide, amazing dance numbers, and diabolical revenge plotting, the audience absolutely adored “Bye Bye Birdie”, and it is sure to be a performance that will have students and parents alike talking about this for a very long time.

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The student news site of Emerald Ridge High School | Puyallup, Washington
Conrad Birdie comes to Emerald Ridge