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Marion High School students to perform ‘Bye Bye Birdie’

Staff writer

A young but talented troupe of Marion High School actors will take the stage to perform “Bye Bye Birdie” in this year’s fall production.

Bye Bye Birdie is set in the late 1950s when popular rock and roll superstar Conrad Birdie, played by Jarrett Johnson, has been drafted into the Army. Birdie’s fans are devastated, but none more than his agent and struggling songwriter Albert Peterson, played by Nathan Baldwin, whose song Birdie was just about to record.

Peterson’s longtime sweetheart, Rose “Rosie” Alverez, played by Tori Boyd, pushes him to write a new tune that Birdie will perform on the Ed Sullivan Show to a fan selected in a contest. The scheme works, with young Sweet Apple, Ohio, teenager Kim MacAfee, played by Samantha Kelsey, declared the winner and the one Birdie will kiss before he leaves for the Army. However, no one counts on the jealous wrath of her boyfriend Hugo Peabody, played by Mason Pedersen.

The musical comedy was performed by Marion students about two decades ago, but there will be a number of changes that will make this rendition unique and different, director Janet Killough said.

“The audience can expect good family entertainment and a lot of laughs,” Killough said. It’s the same script we had before but there will be big group dances with new chorography, a new set, and our actors all have a different slant on the characters.”

As an example, she said Harvey Johnson, a nerdy teenage boy played by Colin Williams, would try to mimic Birdie in several funny ways throughout the musical.

Audience members also can expect a number of recognizable songs such as “Put on a Happy Face,” “The Telephone Hour,” and “One Last Kiss.”

With a younger cast overall, Killough said the production was taking a little longer to put together but is coming along nicely.

“We lost a lot of seniors so we don’t have quite as much experience on the stage,” she said, “but we have just as much talent,”

Baldwin and Boyd have both had major parts before, but Killough said they are stepping into their first leading roles in this production.

“They both just have beautiful singing voices and are experienced enough that they can create characters,” she said. “They have been very supportive and encouraging with the underclassmen and are bound and determined to make this the best show ever.”

As Birdie, Johnson will have a major part with three songs but minimal dialogue.

Cade Harms, who will play Mr. MacAfee, plays “a great dad,” Killough said. She also noted the performances of sophomores Samantha Kelsey, as Rosie, and Luisa Junqueira, who will play Mae Peterson, Albert’s overbearing and prejudiced mother.

“They both have forensics experience and it has helped them tremendously,” Killough said. “Both have really worked hard on their parts.”

With a main part, Kelsey will have several solo songs, dance a lot, and a sizable chunk of dialogue.

Junqueira will channel her melodramatic side by throwing herself upon railroad tracks and sticking her head in an oven as Mrs. Peterson torments her son.

Bye Bye Birdie, a two-hour production with a 15-minute intermission, starts at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 and Nov. 12, and at 2 p.m. Nov. 13.

Advanced tickets for the first two nights are available at County Seat Decorating Center. Cost is $3 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under. Tickets can also be purchased at the door for $5.

The first two showings are reserved seating, but there is no reserved seating on the third.

Last modified Nov. 3, 2016

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