All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.
Poodle skirts, hair gel, rock-n-roll, Elvis Presley, and of course, Conrad Birdie! Spunky and charismatic, Woodbridge Senior High School's production of Bye Bye Birdie transported audience members back to this turbulent time of social revolution, the rocking 50s.
Bye Bye Birdie, written by Charles Strouse, Lee Adams, and Michael Stewart, opened on Broadway in 1960, going on to run for 607 performances and win four Tony awards. The show is a satirical portrayal of 1950s pop culture, filled with screaming teenagers and swoon-worthy crooners. Following the story of a music manager still dependent on his mother and with a secretary, Rosie, vying for his love, the show is ripe with comedic moments and lovable characters. Albert Peterson, a talent manager, is charged with the task of saving the reputation of his client, Conrad Birdie, before he goes off to war. Conrad, however, has more interest in indulging himself than taking part in the scheme his team devises for him to share "one last kiss" with the president of his fan club in Sweet Apple, Ohio. Nevertheless, Albert, Rosie, and Conrad head off to Sweet Apple and are thrown into a whirlwind of rebellious teens, angry parents, and young love.
Albert Peterson, portrayed by Austin Hulbrink, was a quirky yet endearing character who carried the show well. Hulbrink's clear understanding of his character and strong vocals allowed him to command the stage with ease. Likewise, Victoria Unterberger gave a splendid performance in the challenging role of Rosie, demonstrating her triple threat skills. In addition to having a knack for comedy and strong stage presence, Unterberger developed her character with technically flawless dancing and powerhouse belt vocals. However, it was Aidan Houston who stole the show in the role of Conrad Birdie. Before even opening his mouth, Houston portrayed Birdie with overwhelming charisma and expressive physicality. His nuanced performance fueled both the comedy and overall energy of the show.
The talent of this cast was evident not only in the leading actors, but in supporting and featured roles. As Harry MacAfee, Kim’s aggravated father, Danny Waldman demonstrated acute comedic timing and created a hilarious character. From humorous one-liners to an outrageous duet with his wife, Waldman consistently left the audience in stitches. A standout from the ensemble of energetic teens was Brian Bennett as Harvey Johnson. Bennett lit up the stage and was consistently committed to his lovable character.
The technical elements of the show maintained the brightness and energy created by the entire ensemble. The set, cleverly designed by Tori Lockamy and Lindsey Kalland, consisted of three main pieces that had various adornments on them and rotated to serve as the background for many scenes. Achieving seamless transitions, the set crew allowed for the quick pace of the show to be maintained throughout. The lights and the scenery combined to set the light-hearted mood with a pastel color theme. The sound was impeccable as all actors were clearly heard and there were no issues with the microphones. Overall, the student production staff succeeded in using tech to improve the show and effectively communicate the story.
With a committed ensemble, dynamic lead actors, and superb tech, this production brought the booming 1950s to life in a cheerful way. A heartwarming love story with rocking tunes, Woodbridge Senior High School’s Bye Bye Birdie left the audience with a smile on their faces, songs in their heads, and love in their hearts.