Go back in time with ‘Bye Bye Birdie’

Reviewed by Chelsey Fattal
Times-News correspondent

The cast of Burlington Christian Academy's production of "Bye Bye Birdie" pose for a recent photo. / Scott Muthersbaugh, Times-News

“Bye Bye Birdie,” the musical that had Americans “rocking and rolling” in the 1960s, will be performed at the Paramount Theater this weekend by Burlington Christian Academy’s Royal Players.
   With zealous acting and well-performed musical numbers, these young actors and actresses made their viewers more than ready to rock ’n’ roll during a recent rehearsal.
   Originally titled “Let’s Go Steady,” this satire on American society is set in 1958 and is inspired by the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, Elvis Presley. It is based on Presley’s receipt of a draft notice into the United States Army in 1957. The rock star of the musical, “Conrad Birdie” is actually wordplay on the name, Conway Twitty. In the 1950s, Twitty is best-remembered as Presley’s rock ’n’ roll rival. Therefore, the name-association appears adequate for the inspiration of this fun and satirical production.
   The show begins with Albert Peterson, played by Nathan DeBoer, on the telephone discussing business matters. Rose Alvarez, played by Mackenzie Rackley, enters the stage and belts out a tune about her desire to become “Mrs. Peterson.” Enthusiastic and captivating, Rackley involves her audience in the nature of Rose and Albert’s relationship through song. As Albert goes through his “should-have-beens,” the viewer can also identify with their past regrets as he discusses some of his own with Rosie.
   The laughter truly begins when Albert Peterson obtains the idea to have music-sensation Conrad Birdie choose a high school girl and give her a kiss before entering the Army. Kim MacAfee, played by Elizabeth Livers, is the lucky one chosen.
   As the dancing and singing progress, Kim MacAfee quickly forgets about her boyfriend, Hugo F. Peabody, played by Jake Coble, in order to swoon over Conrad Birdie. In a well-done dance and song, Kim and her gal-pals discuss the fantasy kiss that she will have with the rock star. Conrad Birdie, played by Derec Knudson, gives the audience a laugh as he enters wearing a ridiculous gold-suit ensemble. Purposefully reflecting his egotistical character, Knudson gives a good performance, as well as a perfect representation of a self-centered rock star.
   The punches keep rolling with the arrival of Albert Peterson’s mother, Mae, played by Kaitlyn Felkel. In a witty and sarcastic sense of humor, Felkel captivates the audience with her comedy and stage-presence, which makes Mae Peterson one of my favorite characters. Felkel leaves a comic mark on the musical and portrays a guilt-imposing mother, who obviously wants to control the life of her son.
   We approach the music’s end and go through certain situations to find the MacAfee family, played by Tyler Rothrock, Julia Perez and Nick Livers in disarray. You will have to see it in order to fill-in these missing pieces, but it is certain that these characters will have you in laughter and applause after their endearing performance. Director Ashley Phipps did a spectacular job placing each character into his or her role, as well as directing this fantastic performance.
   If you are in the mood for a delightful musical with romance, comedy and a bit of action, I recommend “Bye Bye Birdie.”
   Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Paramount Theater, 128 E. Front St., Burlington. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for senior citizens. Tickets can be purchased between noon and 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and one hour prior to show time; credit card reservations can be made by calling (336) 222-TIXS.

Chelsey Fattal is a Teens & Twenties writer.



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