Bye, Bye Birdie by Haverford High School in Havertown, PA
April 4, 2017
Review submitted by Grace Willey of Unionville High School
It is a timeless story with a universal theme: a teenager coming into her own, a rock star with millions of adoring fans, and a girlfriend dissatisfied with an eight-year love affair. The cast and crew of Haverford High School’s Bye Bye Birdie charmed the audience with high energy and commitment to the production.
Debuting on Broadway in 1960, Bye Bye Birdie, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams, is one of the most enduring musicals of our time. The show portrays the perpetual divide between teenagers and their parents in a humorous way that every generation can appreciate.
Each element of the show came together to create a striking performance. The high energy of the cast was met with a quick and organized stage crew, a vibrant orchestra, and professional looking costumes and sets. The ensemble was fully committed to their parts as their energy and power increased with each scene. With choreography that showed off each ensemble member’s specific skills, the ensemble was a cohesive unit.
Playing the iconic couple, Albert and Rosie, were Josh Angell and Ingrid Slater, whose energy and chemistry enthralled the audience and kept their attention for the entire duration of the show. A different story line contrasted with that of Albert and Rosie; Kim MacAfee, the fifteen-year-old girl who was chosen to get kissed by Conrad Birdie on national television. Grace Potter portrayed Kim beautifully, with a youthful presence and impeccable comedic timing.
Other noteworthy performances included those of Caroline Sessa (Ursula Merkle), Caroline Roberts (Mrs. Mae Peterson) and Harry McKinlay (Hugo Peabody). Each one brought an enormous amount of energy and humor to the show. Similarly, the entire MacAfee family, including Georgia Sminkey as Mrs. MacAfee, Jack Denman as Mr. MacAfee, and Tommy Barnes as Randolph MacAfee, filled the show with witty banter and delivered their hilarious dialogue impeccably. Each actor, no matter the size of his or her role, added to the production value as a whole.
With a considerable amount of people on stage during any given scene the sound crew had their work cut out for them and executed with minimal errors. Equivalently, the orchestra did a commendable job balancing their sound without overpowering the actors. The costumes, along with the sets and props, were simplistic but impressive.
Bye Bye Birdie at Haverford High School whisked the audience back to the simpler times of the 1950s and left them feeling light and hopeful.
Review submitted by Lizzie Stricklin of Plymouth Whitemarsh High School
Through colorful lighting, thrilling choreography, and “honestly sincere” performances, the cast and crew of Haverford High School’s Bye Bye Birdie rocked the audience and made new fans of this classic musical.
Inspired by the draft notice of Elvis Presley, Bye Bye Birdie tells the story of rock star Conrad Birdie and the mania that ensues when he is drafted. With music and lyrics by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams respectively, Bye Bye Birdie has been a musical theater standard since its Broadway premiere in 1960, and is a popular choice for high school theater.
With a talented cast of featured performers and dazzling work behind the scenes, Haverford High School’s production of Bye Bye Birdie gave new life and color to this well-known tale.
Leading this production, Josh Angell and Ingrid Slater brought maturity to the roles of Albert and Rosie, respectively. Slater’s characterization and vocals proved particularly impressive as she displayed her confidence onstage in songs such as “Spanish Rose.” Other notable vocal highlights were found in Grace Potter as Kim MacAfee and Matthew Monteleone as Conrad Birdie.
The true standouts in this performance, however, were the energetic ensembles and brilliant featured actors. The ceaseless energy of the teen ensemble enlivened large group numbers and maintained the show’s quick pacing. Select teens such as Caroline Sessa as Ursula Merkle and Tommy Barnes as Randolph MacAfee displayed impressive characterization in their relatively small roles. With every onstage appearance as the overbearing Mrs. Peterson, Caroline Roberts also stole the show through her humorously snide remarks.
Incredible work done behind the scenes carried the show to its full potential. With flawless lighting and sound design, in addition to timely costumes, the performance was a delight to watch and hear. Nevertheless, the most notable figure in this production was student music director Jack Denman. Denman not only directed the cast to produce the beautiful harmonies heard in “Hymn for a Sunday Evening,” but also performed onstage as the hilarious Mr. MacAfee, fulfilling a large production role rarely seen in high school theater.
With heartfelt performances and impressive technical elements, the cast and crew of Haverford High School’s Bye Bye Birdie demonstrated laudable theatrical ability in a production that would make anyone “put on a happy face.”