A lot has changed since the 1950s. These days, poodle skirts are akin to the passenger pigeon, and mom goes to work while dad stays at home.
But one thing hasn’t changed — audiences love a good time. They’ll get that and more at El Dorado Music Theatre’s production of the ’50s era, Tony award-winning “Bye Bye Birdie.”
“’Bye Bye Birdie’ is a true American classic. It’s ageless and works really well for this age group,” said Debbie Wilson, EDMT founder and “Bye Bye Birdie” director. “The show includes a lot great numbers like ‘Put on a Happy Face’ and ‘Telephone Hour,’ and it’s just a lot of fun for the kids.”
“Bye Bye Birdie” was a big hit on Broadway when it first opened in the spring of 1960. The play tells the story of Elvis Presley-type rock and roll singer Conrad Birdie, who has been drafted into the army. As a farewell to his fans, Conrad is scheduled to sing his agent and songwriter Albert Peterson’s “One Last Kiss” on the Ed Sullivan Show. At the end of the show, Conrad will give a real kiss to a lucky girl from his fan club.
The lucky girl turns out to be Kim McAfee from Sweet Apple, Ohio. When Albert and his secretary/love interest Rosie Alvarez arrive in Sweet Apple to prepare for the show, however, plans begin to unravel. Conrad’s hip-thrusting moves make Kim’s new boyfriend Hugo uncomfortable, while Kim’s father Harry might be a little too excited about the show. Meanwhile, Rosie is beginning to wonder if Albert, for whom she does everything, will ever leave his mother’s shadow.
The musical has two casts — New York and Sweet Apple — with 64 young performers ages 6 to eighth grade each. The actors come from all over El Dorado County and beyond.
“We accept every kid that registers up to our limit and then audition for roles from there,” said Wilson. “Our registration fills up in eight minutes.”
Fourteen-year-old Kelly Maur of El Dorado Hills plays Rosie in the New York cast. Maur, whos performing in her third major role and 14th EDMT show, said singing is actually her favorite part. “I just love the rush when you’re on stage and the feeling that you’re doing something magical for both the audience and the performers,” Maur explained.
Thirteen-year-old Zach Wilson, Debbie’s son, plays Albert and said the role is a lot different from who he usually portrays on the stage. “I’d categorize myself as more of a comedic person, and Albert is a really straight-forward guy,” Zach said. No matter the role, though, Zach said he loves performing. “I love becoming a different person and living a whole different life,” he explained. “There’s not really a wrong answer in acting. It’s freeing. It’s a place where you don’t have to worry about what other people are thinking about you.”
Kelsey Fairchild, 12, plays Kim in the New York cast and although this is her first major role, she said she’s not really nervous. “Everyone is so nice, so you don’t have to worry about messing up, and by the time you get to the show you’re a pro because you’ve practiced it so much,” Fairchild said. “I just love the whole entire experience.”
EDMT’s “Bye Bye Birdie” comes to the Harris Center for the Arts, 10 College Parkway in Folsom, July 12-21. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices range from $13.50 to $28. For more information or to purchase tickets call (916) 608-6888, visit harriscenter.net or stop by the box office open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and two hours prior to every performance.
New Your cast
Albert Peterson (Zach Wilson); Rose Alvarez (Kelly Maur); Conrad Birdie (Justin Harvey); Mae Peterson (Emily Ziegler); Kim MacAfee (Kelsey Fairchild); Mr. MacAfee (Asten Fallavillita); Mrs. MacAfee (Kyra Schnieder); Hugo Peabody (Russell Anderson); Guitar Man (Kyle Anderson); Alice (Marisa Wong); Deborah Sue (Emily Fritz); Randolph MacAfee (Brenden Jobe); Ursula Merkle (Annika Tamaki); Gloria Rasputin (Lindsey Hunter); Mrs. Merkle (Emily Martorana); The Mayor (Stephen Knoble); The Mayor’s Wife (Kiki Iden); Harvey Johnson (Kincade Bischoff); Maude (Jacob Magpantay); Helen (Emily Hobbs); Nancy (Jocelyn Haney); Penelope (Maggie Enriquez); Suzie (Jessica Cain). Happy Face Dancers: Brooke Disney, Emily Fritz, Emily Hobbs, Jessica Cain, Jocelyn Haney, Julianne Yonano, Lindsey Hunter, Maggie Enriquezand Marisa Wong. New Yorkers, Sweet Apple citizens, teenagers, parents, screaming fans, cool guys, etc.: Abigail Disney, Abigail Petree, Alex Newe, Ally Choe, Anna Makarewicz, Bailey Alamillo, Bethany Bell, Brigette Dupre, Brooke Disney, Caitlin Snyder, Chase Franklin, Derek Wong, Elizabeth Lowry, Emma Morfin, Farah Abou-Taleb, Fiona Gordon, Hallie Eichner, Isabella Makarewicz, Jaime Morfin, Jenna Williams, Jennifer Thompson, Jessica Hearl, Joey Baciocco, Julianne Yonano, Justine Majewski, Kennedy Schmidt, Kent Anderson, Laura Roberts, Lauren Grindstaff, Lily Hooper, Linnea Tamaki, Madeline L’Engle, Madeline Yacur, Maya Kinel, Mia Comstock, Olivia McFarland, Owen Gillick, Riley Foreman, Ryan Dominguez, Sophie Yocca, Summer Smith, Suzette Dupre, Sydney L’Engle, William Gillick and Zoe Alamillo.
Sweet Apple cast
Albert Peterson (Zach Wilson); Rose Alvarez (Lindsay Alhady); Conrad Birdie (Justin Harvey), Mae Peterson (Elise Borth), Kim MacAfee (Hannah Davis); Mr. MacAfee (Asten Fallavollita); Mrs. MacAfee (Avery Speel); Hugo Peabody (Nick Ribadeneira); Guitar Man (Kyle Anderson); Alice (Jessica McCloskey); Deborah Sue (Daphne Huegel); Randolph MacAfee (Joshua Davis); Ursula Merkle (Maya Ribadeneira); Gloria Rasputin (Alexandra Fallavollita); Mrs. Merkle (Selma Gebhardt); The Mayor (Stephen Knoble); The Mayor’s Wife (Natalie Hopkins); Harvey Johnson (Liam Roberts); Maude (Jacob Magpantay); Helen (Riley Price); Nancy (Lizzie Meggs); Penelope (Jordan Soto); Suzie (Ariel Sonenstein). Happy Face Dancers: Alexandra Fallavollita, Daphne Huegel, Emma Magnuson, Hannah Tufts, Jessica Mc Closkey, Jordan Soto, Lizzie Meggs, Riley Price and Victoria Fay.New Yorkers, Sweet Apple citizens, teenagers, parents, screaming fans, cool guys, etc.: Amelia Wojcik, Anabelle Sturdivant, Andrew Stokhaug, Avery Sheridan, Brayden Bambino, Caitlin Callahan, Carmela Culcasi, Charlotte Spencer, Charlotte Stokhaug, Charlotte Van De Water, Dane Sheridan, Emma Magnuson, Gabby Magnuson, Georgia Fitzgerald, Hannah Milton, Hannah Tufts, Ian Menz, Isabella Orciuoli, Jacob Bambino, Jamilee Alhady, Jessica Garver, Karine Swinehart, Kate Meggs, Kayla King, Kylie Caggiano, Lanna Moore, Lauryn Sumimoto, Lisette Velandia, Luke Armstrong, Madeline Sweet, Madison Grandlund, Makayla Hendren, Megan Fite, Megan Zsoka, Miranda Garver, Natalie Roeschen, Nathaniel Sweet, Noelynn Oltmann, Sophia Sonsini, Tara Castle, Tristan Russell, Ty Rhoades, Victoria Fay, Whitney Kerstine and Zoe Leflar.