Bye Bye Birdie Receives Great Cappies Review
This article was originally published at www.mdtheatreguide.com. Click here to read the full review submitted by Emily Townsend.
The rock and roll cast and crew of the Connelly School of the Holy Child’s theater department excited audiences with their charming and comedic performance of “Bye Bye Birdie,” based on the book by Michael Stewart. The show, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams, portrays the tale of 1960 rock-and-roll idol, Conrad Birdie, his adoring fans, and his managers, Albert Peterson, and Rosie Alvarez. Rosie arranges a publicity stunt, where Birdie will kiss one lucky fan before he must leave for the army, welcoming Kim MacAfee, her kooky family, and the whole town of Sweet Apple, Ohio, into the plot. Love triangles, family arguments, and the thrill of being on The Ed Sullivan Show present most of the comedic points in the musical, but the main emotional storyline follows Rosie and Albert’s complicated relationship, as they struggle to manage Birdie, keep the town’s kids out of trouble, and, most importantly, express their feelings for each other.
Kelsey Kley, who portrayed Rosie Alvarez, delivered convincing emotion through her lines, had a beautiful singing voice and connected well with her co-stars on stage. As one of the most talented singers and actresses in the production, Kley not only entertained the audience with her attitude and range of expression but also asserted her character’s power over Albert (Jillian Geils). Geils depicted her character’s anxious and dependent, yet endearing nature in a believable way, primarily through her natural stage presence. Furthermore, Geils and Kley had great on-stage chemistry, presenting both engaging argument scenes and touching romantic musical numbers, such as the Act II finale, “Rosie.” A third standout performer was Coco Lynch, who played Mrs. Peterson, Albert’s overbearing and stubborn mother. Lynch delivered some of the funniest lines in the show, in part due to her well-timed physical comedy and facial expressions.
Noteworthy aspects of tech involvement included lighting design and sets. The lighting was unique, using spotlight, shifting lights, different colors, and blackouts to adjust to the shifting moods of the scenes throughout the show. For example, during Act I’s “An English Teacher,” Rosie was kept in the light while Albert was out of the spot, representing Rosie’s desire for independence. The sets, which included the town square, the MacAfee home, and the office of the Almaelou Music Corporation, were charming and well put-together, and the crew transitioned between the different locations seamlessly. All in all, the energy of the performance, the enthusiasm of certain actors, and the visually appealing technical side of the show contributed to a feel-good rendition of Bye Bye Birdie that left the crowd wanting to “put on a happy face.”