Nazareth Area High School Theatre Troupe transported audience members back to 1958 with their enthralling musical performance of “Bye Bye Birdie” from April 13-16.
Director Sandy Jameson noted that preparing for the show meant having some important conversations with the cast, discovering that the show addresses big cultural changes that prove to be just as relevant today as they were in 1958.
“Bye Bye Birdie” centers around rockstar Conrad Birdie being drafted into the Army (played by sophomore Damon Dellanno), whose character is based on Elvis Presley.
The show opens with Albert Peterson (played by senior Jacob Kremer) an aspiring English teacher turned songwriter getting the news that Conrad is being drafted into the Army. His long-time secretary and romantic interest Rosie Alvarez (played by senior Kaylyn Guerrieri) comes up with the idea to have Conrad perform a new song that Albert wrote on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” where he will give one lucky girl a “last kiss” before going off into the Army.
In Sweet Apple, Ohio 15-year-old Kim MacAfee (played by junior Julia Borawski) sings “How Lovely to be a Woman,” while reflecting on her maturity after being pinned by her high school sweetheart Hugo Peabody (played by senior Sean Strauss). Suddenly, she gets the phone call that she has been chosen to be Conrad’s last kiss and screams in excitement.
Conrad gets to Sweet Apple and the teenage girls swoon in their stylish 1950s colorful dresses while welcoming him and singing their anthem, “We Love You Conrad.”
Meanwhile, Hugo worries that Kim likes Conrad more and tells her “Conrad Birdie is just a fling, a steady is forever.” Kim assures Hugo that he is the only boy for her as she sings “One Boy.”
Conrad drives the girls crazy as he thrusts his hips while performing “Honestly Sincere,” causing all the girls to faint.
Kim’s dad, Harry MacAfee (played by junior Aaron Louw), refuses to let Kim kiss Conrad on television, but Albert persuades him to agree by promising that the whole family will get to be on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The MacAfee family is joined by a gold robe-wearing choir on stage and in the audience as they sing “Hymn for a Sunday Evening,” an ode to Ed Sullivan.
Albert’s overbearing, dramatic mother Mae (played by senior Sofia Forgione) comes to town in her long fur coat, pearls, and not a single gray hair out of place to break up Albert’s relationship with Rosie because she objects to Rosie’s Spanish ethnicity. Mae introduces Albert to Gloria Rasputin (played by sophomore Ava DeFebbo) as a ploy to get Albert to replace Rosie. Gloria sees Albert as her way into show business and tap dances to Mae’s “Swanee River,” before embarrassingly doing a split that Albert and Mae have to help her up from.
Albert gives Gloria a typing position and Rosie is furious with Albert, so she convinces Hugo to sabotage Conrad’s kiss with Kim.
While on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Conrad, in his green and gold Army uniform, sings “One Last Kiss” and tells Kim to brace herself when Hugo suddenly swoops in and knocks Conrad unconscious.
Rosie breaks up with Albert and convinces Kim that they don’t need men as they sing “What Did I Ever See in Him?” about Albert and Hugo. Kim runs off to join her friends at the Ice House, a known hookup spot.
Albert admits that he needs and loves Rosie while planning to run after her, but before he does, he rearranges a do-over kiss between Conrad and Kim. Conrad informs him that he’s going out to meet young chicks and that he won’t be back in time to kiss Kim.
At the Ice House, Conrad sings about kissing chicks in “Lot of Livin’ To Do,” and Kim corrects him, telling Conrad that she’s a grown woman as he tries to make a move on her.
Hugo tells Harry that Kim and Conrad ran off for midnight swims, motorboat races, and loop de loop. Harry is furious and erupts into “Kids,” a song about disobedient kids while questioning “What’s the matter with kids today?”
Rosie goes to Maude’s Roadside Retreat to drink and flirt with men. She tells everyone to call her Spanish Rose and announces that this is her coming out while singing “Spanish Rose” in a sultry red dress.
Albert calls the bar and asks to speak to Rosie while singing “Baby, Talk to Me,” but Rosie is unconvinced. She goes into a private men’s room and Albert shows up looking for her. Mae follows him to the bar and Albert tells his mother to go home because he doesn’t need her anymore.
Mamma Mae sings about all the things she did for him as his mother in “A Mother Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” as she dramatically asserts “You sacrifice your life, and then you get the knife.”
All of the Sweet Apple parents are looking for their kids when Hugo informs them that they’re at the Ice House. Harry calls the police, and the adults and police show up to arrest Conrad because Kim is underage.
Rosie reconciles with Albert, and he tells her he loves her and wants to marry her. Rosie is ecstatic and when Mae asks Rosie to talk, Rosie tells her that she’s going to call her mom soon. However, Mae can’t let go of her racist objections and she cries at the thought.
Albert bails Conrad out of jail and sneaks him out of town with Conrad dressed as a woman.
Kim’s mom, Doris MacAfee (played by junior Jade Mills), tells everyone that Hugo has proposed to Kim and that Kim said yes!
Then, Albert and Rosie miss their train home on purpose, so they can move to a new town where Albert can be an English teacher and marry Rosie. Albert sings “my life is Rosie since I’ve got my Rosie,” and the couple dances together and shares a kiss as the show comes to an end.
With over 120 students involved in the production, the cast, ensemble, student staff and crew, and orchestra were all phenomenal in their pivotal roles to make the production a truly sensational success.