Get ready for a host of fun tunes and a gaggle of swooning, starstruck teenage girls in Richland High School’s rendition of Bye Bye Birdie.
The cast of 36 is bringing the 1950s-style musical to life 7 p.m. May 8, 15 and 16 and 1 p.m. May 9 at the school’s auditorium.
Conrad Birdie, a famous singer, is being drafted into the Army, and before he goes, he’s out to make himself even more popular by visiting Sweet Apple, Ohio, to kiss Kim, a teen winner of a nationwide fan contest, on the Ed Sullivan Show after he sings a brand-new song.
The golden jumpsuit-wearing singer was based on Elvis Presley. He’s also kind of like Justin Bieber, when he was actually popular, said Liam Stanfield, 14, an eighth-grader at Three Rivers HomeLink, who plays the lovestruck Hugo, Kim’s jealous boyfriend.
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Conrad is a guy all the girls want to kiss and all the guys want to punch, said John Emerson, 18, a senior, who plays the superstar. But only one of the two actually happens in the musical.
“The girls love me, obviously,” John said. “The guys sort of envy me, but they also hate me in the process.”
Kim is trying to show everyone that she is becoming a woman by kissing Conrad, said Jenacie Jones, a 17-year-old senior who plays Kim. But she does really have feelings for Hugo, which her character explains while singing her favorite song, One Boy.
Conrad has his own fan club of enthused teen girls. Ryan Lysher, a 16-year-old sophomore who plays Penelope, says, “It’s kind of fun to be a spastic teenage girl.”
The musical doesn’t have much of a plot, it’s more a lot of subplots shoved together and linked by music, said Nathan Ramsey, a 17-year-old junior who plays Harry MacAfee, Kim’s father.
“It’s all in good fun, it’s silly and it is not supposed to be taken too seriously,” Jenacie said.
Among the subplots is Rosie’s attempt to get her longtime boyfriend Albert, Conrad’s manager and songwriter, to finally marry her, said Kailey Thomsen, an 18-year-old senior who plays Rosie. Among her favorite songs is Rosie, a romantic duet she sings with Albert, played by Cory Huntington, 18, a senior.
Harvey, played by Zach Gimpel, 19, a senior, is trying to go from nerd to cool. He interrupts other singers during Telephone Hour in his ultimately failed attempt to secure a prom date.
Don’t expect the movie version of the the musical. For one things, there is a lot less cheese, Kailey said.
But do expect some profanity gone wrong, said Julian Underwood, a 15-year-old freshman who plays Karl. The teens are supposed to be somewhat naive, and so they mess up words that would be bad if only they could say them right.
Bring an open mind, since the teens are trying to re-create a piece of the 1950s, Cory said.
Back then, it was a woman’s role to run the household and a man’s job to provide for his family, said Erin Ballo, the school’s drama director.
“Be ready for 50s-style music,” Zach said. He suggests going to the musical would be a perfect date.
Tickets are available at the door or through the bookkeepers office in Richland High School’s cafeteria. General admission is $15, and students and seniors are $12 each.