Elizabeth Forward Middle School tackles 'Birdie'
“Kids! I don't know what's wrong with these kids today!” It's a lyric from the musical “Bye Bye Birdie,” but if you put the question to Elizabeth Forward Middle School teacher Mark Mauer, who is overseeing the school's production of the show this week, he'll tell you his actors have the situation pretty well under control.
“The kids are running the entire show. The entire thing is kid driven,” Mauer said.
That means besides actors having their roles down pat, students will be in control of lighting, sound and other technical elements of production when the curtain rises at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the middle school auditorium.
The school's production corresponds with the 50th anniversary of the movie for the musical. The show offers a humorous look at teenage culture of the late 1950s and early 1960s and was inspired by Elvis Presley joining the Army in 1958.
In the show, the Elvis-like character Conrad Birdie, played by Hunter Moore, is entering the military and his managers stage a publicity stunt to have their star deliver one last kiss before he goes to a randomly picked member of his fan club.
The lucky girl is Kim MacAfee, played by Natalie Montarti, who comes from the small town of Sweet Apple, Ohio.
The arrival of big city Birdie quickly creates problems for her and other inhabitants of the town.
Birdie's manager Albert, played by Kevin Trasp, and his secretary Rosie, portrayed by MaKenzie Wright, also have their hands full.
Kevin said his character is basically a mama's boy who starts to take control of his own life by the end of the show. He also gets in a few choice musical numbers.
“‘Put on a Happy Face,' that's probably my favorite song,” Kevin said.
MaKenzie said her character plays off Kevin's.
“My character is always angry and annoyed,” said MaKenzie, who noted that she gets to sing “English Teacher,” which is not included in the movie.
Mauer said the musical is a good one for his students. Elements of the story are timeless yet it also contains historical references that work well for comedic effect.
Mauer said his largely female cast can take advantage of the show's many female characters.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.