by Lorie Lewis Ham
This weekend the Kings Canyon Unified School District spring musical, Bye Bye Birdie, hits the stage at the Performing Arts Center at Reedley High School with a cast of 50 fourth through twelfth grade students and RHS Alumni.
According to KCUSD Theatre Arts Coordinator Mark Norwood, Bye Bye Birdie is based on the real life drama and trauma that was stirred up when Elvis Presley was drafted into the Army. “In our story, Conrad Birdie (Felipe Lopez) is the draftee-rock star and his hapless manager, Albert (D. J. Reimer) must try and capitalize on the resulting media firestorm to preserve his struggling record company. His long suffering secretary, Rosie (Samantha Sandoval) cooks up the idea of Conrad bestowing one last kiss on one of his fans, Kim MacAfee (Kaylena Santos) from the sleepy town of Sweet Apple Ohio.
“The kiss is to be televised on the Ed Sullivan Show, however, Kim’s steady, Hugo Peabody (Zach Clemmer) has other ideas and disrupts the broadcast and accuses Conrad of being a ‘Thief of Love’. Throw in Albert’s overbearing mama, Mae (Stephanie Beyers) and Kim’s parents and little brother (Skyler Quammen, Kiarra Hill, and Christopher Lopez) and you have all the ingredients needed for a fabulous show! Kelsey Ikemiya and Joseph Ham play key roles as well.”
RHS Junior D.J. Reimer has been seen on both the RHS and the Opera House stage often over the past several years and is excited about playing the role of Albert. “The chance to play a Dick Van Dyke character comes around once in a lifetime. I love the vivacity and message of youth and excitement [in this show]. I’ve seen the movie, and the stage show does it justice.”
Skyler Quammen, another RHS Junior in Birdie, has also been seen on both stages over the past couple of years and is probably best known at RHS for his role as Daddy Warbucks in Annie last year. He too is enjoying his character, that of Kim’s dad Mr. MacAfee. “I like that I get to play a stern but funny character and I absolutely love the music.”
Birdie is filled with fun 50s music, some of which may be familiar to even those who have never seen the show such as “Put On A Happy Face”. Support the arts in our local schools and go see this great show that opens at the Reedley High School Performing Arts Theater at 740 W. North Ave., Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. with other performances on March 24, 25, 29, 30 and 31. The March 25 show will be a matinee at 2 p.m. with all other performances at 7:30. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and may be purchased at Bike Trax, or at the door.
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