Put on your poodle skirts and join in the fun as the Baldwin Theatre gets transformed into the 1950s when Stagecrafters Youth Theatre performs the classic musical, Bye Bye Birdie. This rock ‘n’ roll infused show, performed by youth from the tri-county area, runs July 19-22 at the , 415 S. Lafayette in downtown Royal Oak.
Originally produced on Broadway in 1960 starring Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera, the four-time Tony Award winning musical Bye Bye Birdie was inspired by the headlining news of Elvis Presley being drafted in 1958. Written by Charles Strouse, Lee Adams, and Michael Stewart, the show features famous songs such as “The Telephone Hour,” “Put on a Happy Face,” “A Lot of Livin’ to Do,” “Kids,” and “Spanish Rose.”
When teenage heartthrob Conrad Birdie (Niko Bokos of Bloomfield Hills) is drafted into the army, his agent Albert Peterson (Ryan Hurley of Huntington Woods), and Albert’s secretary and love interest Rosie Alvarez (Cassady Temple of Macomb) plan a publicity stunt to premiere a brand new song and to give one lucky girl one last kiss before leaving for the army.
The drama arises in Sweet Apple, Ohio, the home of Kim MacAfee (Colleen Bielman of Troy), the girl selected to receive the kiss from Conrad, when news spreads of her getting pinned to Hugo Peabody (Jake Zelinski of Rochester Hills). When Conrad arrives in town, Hugo worries that Kim likes Conrad more than him. Mr. Harry MacAfee (Christian Lafata of Royal Oak) does not want Kim to kiss Conrad on The Ed Sullivan Show, and Mae Peterson (Anna Marck of Royal Oak) arrives in Sweet Apple to end the relationship between her son and Rosie.
Nick Yocum of Royal Oak directs this production, making it his second experience with the show. Yocum was involved in the 1999 Stagecrafters Youth Theatre production of Bye Bye Birdie and has loved the show from a very young age.
“My sister and I watched the Dick Van Dyke movie version all the time, sang the songs constantly and I have loved it ever since,” says Yocum. “I always refer to it as my guilty pleasure musical because it is so simple and corny, yet it has a special spot in my heart because the music just never fails to make me feel good.”
Although he is making his directorial debut, Yocum is no stranger to Stagecrafters, or its Youth Theatre Program.
“Stagecrafters has been my second home since I was 8 years old, and will always be a safe place for me to have fun, and produce and experience art with people I love,” says Yocum of the program. “Youth Theatre taught me, and still teaches me the importance of learning how to express yourself at a young age, whether it be through acting, designing, directing, or playing music.”
Yocum hopes that this production of Bye Bye Birdie will “wow” the audience. “The actors have all been pulling the comedy out of each word and finding the essence of their characters, which is something that is easily overlooked with a lot of productions of this show,” Yocum adds. “With ages ranging from only 8-18, I think the audience will be getting a lot more than what they expect out of a youth theatre production.”
Theatre in itself is a collaborative art form, which Yocum understands and utilizes to its fullest potential.
“People forget that the minds of young people can be so much more creative and precise than the minds of even a lot of professional artists. I have used more ideas from kids involved in this production than ideas that I came up with,” says Yocum.
Yocum and the entire cast of Bye Bye Birdie are confident that you’ll leave the theatre wanting to see the show again.
Advance tickets for performances are $6 youth and $10 adult. Tickets may be purchased online at www.stagecrafters.org or by phone at 248-541-6430 using Visa and MasterCard. All seats are reserved. If shows have not sold out, tickets can be purchased at the box office one hour prior to the performance for an additional $2 per ticket.