Conrad Birdie has been drafted into the Army.
His manager, Albert Peterson is in trouble. His client’s stint in the military could ruin him.
Before his time serving his country begins, Peterson and his secretary, Rose “Rosie” Alvarez put together a plan to have him record and perform another song before he goes. The publicity stunt continues as the plan also includes Birdie giving “One Last Kiss” to one lucky girl chosen from his fan club. That girl is from Sweet Apple, Ohio.
In “Bye Bye Birdie,” a musical based on the book by Michael Stewart, the story of how this plan unfolds and the characters it impacts is told.
Later this week, the Redwood Valley Theater Department is scheduled to present this musical on the Estebo PAC stage at Redwood Valley schools in Redwood Falls.
The performances are scheduled for Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 10 at 1 and 7 p.m. (Due to the Cardinal football game, there will not be a performance Nov. 9.)
Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for students.
Originally produced by Edward Padula, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams, “Bye Bye Birdie” is being presented for the community by a cast and crew of nearly 40 students in Grades 8-12, with Whitney Hegg serving as the director and Katy Eckes directing the music. Paul Berggren and Collin Stephenson are also assisting with the pit band for the upcoming performances.
Hegg, who has been directing the local fall theatrical presentation for the past several years, began her role as director with a presentation of “Bye Bye Birdie,” and said she has thought about bringing it back over the years. Hegg said she thought it would be fun to see a new group of students and how they would shape the play in their own way.
“A few of them have heard of this musical before,” said Hegg.
Most, if not all, of the students were not even in school yet the last time it was performed. Hegg said it has been exciting for her to see the students as they prepare the play for their performances, adding, she has also appreciated working side by side with Eckes during rehearsals.
Hegg said with each performance that is offered in the fall her goal is to get as many students on the stage as is possible, and she said this year there is a good mix of students with lots of stage experience, as well as those who are going to perform for the first time.
RVHS senior Mara Lund, who plays Rose, is doing her second fall production but her first musical. Considering herself a theatrical type of person, Lund said she is not sure why she didn’t get involved before her junior year. What she found is a group of people she has enjoyed working with and who have helped her to grow as a performer.
Brian Bucholz plays Conrad Birdie, and as a senior is in his third year as a performer. He started his theater experience as a member of the cast for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and enjoyed the experience enough to stick with theater. Bucholz was also encouraged to get involved with the theater by others.
“I really enjoy the people who are part of theater,” said Bucholz, adding they all have a lot of fun.
Hegg said in the case of so many of the students they are not only involved in the performing arts but also in other activities, such as sports. That, she admitted, can be challenging as the cast and crew rehearse when they can, and, in reality, there are not a whole lot of those rehearsals when everyone is there.
Both Bucholz and Lund said presenting a musical is more intense simply because there is so much more to learn. In addition to memorizing lines and knowing their stage directions, the performers also have lyrics, music and choreography to remember.
“For me this is more stressful,” said Lund.
Hegg said in spite of the challenges things have been going well as students continue to work toward opening night.
“I love working with the kids, and we have such a good mix of age groups,” said Hegg, adding she enjoys seeing new students who want to give theater a try, as well as those who have been part of the program for a while who have decided to take the next step and more significant roles.
Having students who are involved in lots of activities is a good thing, said Hegg, adding the theater experience is helping to make them more well-rounded people.
The cast includes: Justus Probst, Mara Lund, Brian Bucholz, Abby Gilk, Leo Steffl, Esther Schmieg, Kaylee Robinson, Audrey Munshower, Jack Frank, Lexy Nelson, Christina Anderson, Rachel Anderson, Justene Larsen, Jayne Russell, Jenny Vang, Ahmed Azzab, Shelby Burg, Woniya Berry, Emma Bucholz, Mariah Frank, Courtney Manee, Cincere Kley, Sofia Panitzke, Harley Raney, Ivis Robertson, Wyatt Smith and Natalie Sullivan.
Hegg also expressed her appreciation for those students who have opted to stay behind the scenes working as members of the crew.
The crew includes: Emily Benson, Payden Beran, Lexi Day, Skylar Dehncke, Trinity Milne, Makale Prescott, Kody Robinson, Cameron Seaman, Kenzie Wertish, Amos Krause, Chalese Rohne and Maria Sandoval.
“The crew has been working very hard,” said Hegg, who added there is a place for everyone in the theater.
Hegg said she and the students are having a lot of fun together this fall as they prepare to present “Bye Bye Birdie.”
The public is encouraged to come out and watch the Redwood Valley performance of “Bye Bye Birdie” this coming weekend to support the local theater department, to see a talented group of young performers and to enjoy a time of fun entertainment.