SHOWING : July 17, 2008 - August 02, 2008
[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]
The year is 1960. Conrad Birdie, a hip-thrusting rock and roll superstar akin to Elvis Presley, has been drafted into the army! His agent, Albert Petersen dreams up one last publicity stunt. Conrad will give one farewell kiss to one lucky girl selected from the millions of his adoring fans on the Ed Sullivan Show. The lucky girl is Kim MacAfee, recently pinned girlfriend of Hugo Peabody. Watch what happens in Sweet Apple, Ohio when Conrad, Albert, and Albert's long-suffering girlfriend, Rose come to town. Put on a Happy Face, Got a Lotta Livin' to Do, and Kids! are just a few of the jazz and rock-and-roll inspired songs from this happy musical from the swingin' sixties!
[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]
Another Hit for STG|
Monday, July 21, 2008 ||
We've seen a good many shows produced at the Southside Theatre Guild. Most are excellent, some good and then there are the exceptional ones - like Bye Bye Birdie. When you see the name of Marian Johnson attached as Director you can be sure it can be nothing less than exceptional! She can be a demanding director expecting the cast to rise to the occasion and put every ounce of talent they have into their role. This cast does just that and in turn gives the audience a night of theater to which others will be measured by. |
There are so many exceptional performances with the actors feeding off each other to bring the total experience together into one of the best community theater productions of this classic 1960's musical comedy.
Jonny May (Albert Peterson) does an admirable job in the lead along with co-star Katy Durham (Rosie Alvarez.) Both have strong voices, the ability to develop a character, dance with confidence and maintain their energy level throughout the show. They are perfectly matched on stage.
Young Ashton McCranie (Kim McAfee) is an up and comer. Under voice coach Barbara Zellner she is developing a strong voice that carries well and delivers a song with appropriate emotion. Kim's rendition of How Lovely to be a Woman in Act One showcases her training with a promise of more to come as she gets a little older. Her acting ability isn't bad either! We enjoyed her as the emerging woman from teen girl who almost, but not quite, crosses that threshold. Her scenes with the older, more experienced Conrad Birdie are right on target.
Ian McCarthy as heart throb Conrad Birdie nails the role. In the Penn Station scene he comments on the reporter's questions and remarks of his managers Albert and Rosie with facial expressions that don't require words. Ian has a deep, resonate voice which he used effectively in an Elvis style parody on which the Birdie character is loosely based.
There are a couple of absolute scene stealers in this show!
First on the list is future Broadway Star, Amanda Lindsey (Ursula Merkle.) When she steps on stage she commands it and the audience responds with bursts of laughter and applause. Amanda has a natural comedic ability, outstanding facial expression and natural acting ability. Without a doubt the best Ursula I've ever seen outside of Broadway. A senior at the University of West Georgia majoring in Theatre she has the ambition and talent to fulfill her dream.
One of the funniest scenes is Birdie's arrival at the Sweet Apple courthouse. Assembled is the entire cast of town folk as the Mayor, played by Terry Hoffman, welcomes Conrad. On hand in the crowd is the Mayor's wife portrayed by Louisa Grant. You don't realize she is even on stage until Conrad begins to sing Honestly Sincere. Then she pulls out all the stops. Without saying a word, she swoons, almost faints, finally does faint and produces one of the funniest and show-stopping scenes in the entire show. Ms. Grant you are awesome!
Speaking of scene stealers, I can't overlook 5 year old Gracie and 4 year old Katie Coyne, both making their stage debut in Bye Bye Birdie. Someday they will look back on their performance and understand that in the theater no role is small and every role adds to the over-all excellence of the show. Know that the audience saw you, heard you and enjoyed you every time you stepped on stage!
Another actor who dives head first into his part is Ben Papac (Harvey Johnson.) This time he plays a teen still emerging from puberty with a voice that cracks to soprano. Ben was outstanding on stage - especially in the scene at Maude's Roadside Retreat when the sight of a woman's exposed leg sends him into near apoplexy. Again, expressions say so much more than words! Great performance by a young actor/singer we have enjoyed watching. Ben has a good voice and it's getting better thanks to voice coach Rick Massengale. His is a talent we can all expect to see more of and it would not be too soon!
Bert Lyons does a stellar job as Kim's father (Harry MacAfee) displaying all the angst those of us with a daughter have survived. Trying hard not to lose control of his family he moves through the scenes with increasing frustration not wanting his daughter to kiss Conrad. That is until he learns that the entire family is going to be on the Ed Sullivan Show. Bert's attempt at stealing the spotlight is another highlight of this remarkable performance.
Tyler Shellnutt, in the role of the McAfee's young son (Randolph) was a natural for the part. He did a good job with Hymn for a Sunday Evening and Kids. He seemed very comfortable on stage and was believable as the younger brother. Trying to communicate with a Dad that "only wanted respect from his family" he is most often told to "shut-up." Growing up in the Shellnut household suggests that we can see great acting in his future.
Angie Morrow, cast in the role of Doris McAfee gives a portrayal of a 1950's housewife whose only lot in life is to care for her family, devoted to the needs of her husband while carefully circumventing his tirades with "Yes, dear." Trying to understand a daughter who feels grown up enough to call her Doris rather than Mom, she played the role with all the right nuances, bewilderment and skills of a mother of that era. If you grew up then, you would see glimpses of your own Mother in her performance.
Another winning performance was given by Debbie Lewis as the long suffering, world-champion-guilt-trip Jewish mother, Mae Peterson. She assumed the role only a week before opening night and turned in an excellent performance. We would have preferred a more defined accent which the role demands to punctuate the comedic nature of the character. However, we can overlook that and be thankful that she learned the lines and delivered them with such little prep time. That's a real trouper!
If there was one gaff in the evening it has to be in the role of Hugo Peabody, played by a talented 13 year old actor, Gray Oglesby. He's an experienced young actor with some solid credits on his resume. So our fault doesn't lie with his acting - it's the hair cut! Someone should have told him that back then guys didn't style their hair in tight cropped curls! Gray, learn from this experience - as an actor you have to "look" the part from top to bottom. It's not too late - get a hair cut, look like a kid from the '50's and make your role totally believable. I promise, your hair will grow back just as curly in no time at all. Other than that, he does a good job of being the jealous boyfriend finally popping Birdie in the nose in front of millions of TV viewers.
Adding to the over-all experience is the live music provided by Marian Johnson, Jerry Mathis, Bill Dyson and Vince Rosse. Bye Bye Birdie is a musical and it calls for live music; anything less would be a distraction. These musicians did an excellent, professional job.
Everyone on and off the stage contributes to its success. It promises a theater experience that can be enjoyed by the entire family and I expect will sell out every performance. It deserves to be seen, heard, laughed along with and even talked about when you get home and recall your favorite song, scene or character.
Tell your friends about it, form a theater party or go by yourself - any way you do it, don't miss Bye Bye Birdie!
Andre De Lorenzo
Southside ARTS Agenda
[POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
| || by andred30269|
| The role of Mae was played by MELODY KOPPE. Sorry for the error!|
Southside ARTS Agenda
Monday, July 21, 2008 ||
I'm just here to review the Saturday August 19th performance of "Bye Bye Birdie."
Upon ariving at the theatre, I loved the external look of the theatre. Felt like I was walking into a theatre back in the 50's. Very neat effect for the nature of the production. :)
When I walked into the theatre, I loved the raised seating, and was very pleased that the seating was raised enough so that the people in front of me did not block my view. The theatre seats maybe 150-200 people, and it was almost full on it's Third Day of performances. This cast deserves a full house.
SET: 5.0 I have never seen such an amazing set at an all-volunteer theatre. Except maybe the Henry Players Les Miserables barricade. The MacAfees home was truly astounding. The two story set with the Kitchen, and Kim's bedroom. WOW! There were so many things sitting onstage that weren't even used, but it just made the house seem that much more real. My ONLY and I'll repeat my ONLY complaint about the house set was that during "How Lovely To Be A Woman" Kim was moving on the bed, and you felt the bed was about to fall over. The Maude set was great. Once again, lots of props that weren't used, made it feel more real. Great Job on the Set, Roger Johnson.
SOUND: 3.5 Not many complaints in the sound department. Most of the principles were miced. The only person I wish had been miced was Randolph MacAfee (Tyler Shellnutt). His solo in "Kids" in the second act was strained to hear because he was standing in front of the choral mics which worked very well, when the cast was behind them. No feed back or anything, which was a plus. Good job, guys.
LIGHTS: 4.0 The lighting was above par for the community theatre productions in the are. One complaint is that in the "Telephone Hour" you couldn't see the faces of the first couple of girl solos. Very cool effect though with the lights being above the actresses. Just wish I could have seen their faces more. Another complaint is that there was very little lighting down-stage Left. But I think this was known because very little action took place there. Great job, loved it.
COSTUMES: 4.5 The costumes were very good in this production. I didn't prefer much for Rose Alvarez's (Katy Durham) dress in the final scene, but that's just taste. I loved Conrad's sparkly studded army uniform. It cracked me up. :) I also loved the MacAfee family's costumes in the Ed Sullivan Scene. Great choice of costumes. It really made you believe that they had been dressed up just because they were on T.V. Loved it. My only major complaint in the costume department is that Harvey Johnson (Benjamin Papac) was wearing a fleece vest during "A Lot of Livin' To Do." Did no one else find it odd that he was wearing a sweater 50 years before it was invented? Just me, okay. Awesome costumes, otherwise.
ALBERT PETERSON (JOHNNY MAY): 4.0
Johnny May is very pleasant to watch onstage. From the moments the lights came up on him in the very first scene I could not take my eyes off of him. His Nathan Lane-esque personality was very drawing to me. And in fact, during the very last scene he turns sideways and you get a profile of him. Look for the appearance of Nathan Lane. It's the only chance you'll get. His number "Put On A Happy Face" was very cute with Alice (Alison Kuras). He really seemed to enjoy himself onstage. Great personality and would love to see him again onstage.
ROSE ALVAREZ (KATIE DURHAM): 4.0
Although not thoroughly impressed with Ms. Durham's acting abilities, I felt that she played well in this show. She really connected with her songs "An English Teacher," "An English Teacher (Reprise)," and "Spanish Rose." She's very enjoyable to watch. And really has a beautiful voie. Her rendition of "An English Teacher" is one I could constantly listen to over and over again. Very well done. My only complaint with this character is that she wasn't spanish, and the actress did nothing to make herself appear more Hispanic. She had blonde hair and did not even wear a black wig. It was simply odd during the scenes where they spoke of her Hispanic Heritage that she wasn't spanish. Her scene with Mae Peterson (Melody Koppe) was very well done, and it made me laugh.
KIM MACAFEE (ASHTON MCCRANIE): 4.5
From the moment Ashton comes onstage, you can't take her eyes off of her. And when she sings, your eyes are glued to her. She's got a beautiful figure, and a very pleasant face. Her rendition of "How Lovely To Be A Woman" was very beautiful. Although she skipped a few beats here and there and the band had to skip beats to stay with her, she still sang it beautiful and has a very clean flip from chest to head voice that is hard to do with a voice such as hers. Her monologue in Act Two had me laughing so hard, I thought I would laugh my lungs up. Very good actress, but sometimes keeps her arms to her side whilst singing. Not a horrible thing to do, but made her seem less human. Something she can work on. Very good though.
URSULA MERKLE (AMANDA LINDSEY): 5.0
PERFECTION! There is not much to say about Ms. Lindsey except that every time she walked onstage I laughed. Her Conrad Birdie song cracked me up when she said "blue." It was AWESOME. The scene with Alice (Alison Kuras) and Deborah Sue (Alexia Barrett) was hilarious. You would never guess that Ms. Lindsey is a senior in college because she played down to the age of the actresses in the show. Great job. I loved "One Boy." It was probably arguably my most favorite number of the night. The blend between Kim (Ashton McCranie) and Ms. Lindsey is beautiful, and great to listen to.
DORIS MACAFEE (ANGIE MORROW): 3.5
Ms. Morrow gave a very convincing performance as Kim's (Ashton McCranie) mother. Their onstage bond was great, and I loved the first scene with the both of them. The one where Kim (Ashton McCranie) starts to call her mom "Dorris." It was way funny. My only complaint is that Ms. Morrow didn't sing out when performing the duet "Kids" with onstage Husband Harry MacAfee (Bert Lyons). I think there was potential, but a lack of confidence held her back.
HARRY MACAFEE (BERT LYONS): 4.0
Mr. Lyons is a very comedic actor whose scenes in The Ed Sullivan show and others were hilarious, and I found myself laughing more than usual in the show. His rendition of "Kids", althought not vocally perfect had all the stage presence required, and was very enjoyable to watch. Mr. Lyons played father to Ashton McCranie and Tyler Shellnut very well, and the onstage bond was real.
RANDOLPH MACAFEE (TYLER SHELLNUT): 4.0
I almost forget this character exsists except for the scene where he is constantly told to "Shut up" by onstage father Harry (Bert Lyons), and his solo in "Kids Reprise" (which you could hardly hear him in.) I don't know if it was the actor's portrayol of the character or just the writing of the character. But I felt like the kid was never there. The actor, thouhgh, does resemble the young boy in Scary Movie 3.
MAE PETERSON (MELODY KOPPE): 4.5
This woman made me laugh so hard. I loved her rendition of "A Mother Doesn't Matter Anymore." She's so great. After the production a cast member told me that they lost their Mae 10 days before the show, and that Ms. Koppe came in and tooke over, and I must say that I can not have hoped for a better Mae Peterson. Everything about her performance was just awesome. I'd love to see her again in something.
CONRAD BIRDIE (IAN MCCARTHY): 3.5
Mr. McCarthy was a slight let down in his first song as Birdie. It was just scratchy and screamy. "One Last Kiss" was a much better fit for his voice. I realized after the show that Conrad Birdie was a much smaller part than I had thought. Mostly singing, and I don't know if Mr. McCarthy was the best fit for a vocally heavy part.
HUGO PEABODY (GRAY OGLESBY): 3.0
TOO YOUNG! Geez. The Kim (Ashton McCranie) was 17 years old. Hugo Peabody should not have been cast 4 years younger. He did not do a bad job, but you can tell he looked significantly younger than his opposite. I will give him the scene that he comes out "drunk" from milk. Very funny. He did a fine job in the acting department, and I don't recall any solos. Overall, fine. But the age difference killed me.
HARVEY JOHNSON (BEN PAPAC): 4.5
Although Mr. Papac only had two scenes where he was featured at Harvey. He stole the scene both times. He's a great performer, who people must keep their eyes on. Go Ben!
Overall decent. Pretty good.
Thanks very much to Southside Theatre Guild. It was an evening I wouldn't mind doing again. The show runs about 2 hrs and 20 mins. So not too long. Very fun.
Thanks guys! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
| || Fleece vest? by theaterlynn|
| Great review only one quibble... Harvey Johnson (Ben Papac) was wearing an argyle sweater vest in "A Lot of Livin'" that may be difficult to discern from further up in the seats but it isn't fleece. :-)|
| || Who cares? by Richard Long|
| Talk about spliting hairs. Does it really matter that it was an argyle or fleece sweater? Who cares if he had on a canvas sweater or even a plastic one? That isn't the point of the review.|
| || come on, ricardo... by mooniemcmoonster|
| who cares? that's totally something i'd pick up on when going to a show...and since that's something i'd pick up on, if i were in a show and someone falsely accused us of having non-time-period fabrics, then i'd want to defend it. |
| || Only a woman... by Richard Long|
| would ever know what the dates were for sweaters. I don't even know what the difference is between argyle and fleece. I would think that if it looked like it was from the 50's, then that is all that's important.|
| || Woops! My bad! by broadwaylove367|
| Guess I didn't know that it wasn't fleece. From where I was sitting it looked like Fleece. No problem. Doesn't matter to me that much, I was just like "eh" when I thought it was fleece.|
Friday, July 18, 2008 ||
Last night I saw the opening of Bye Bye Birdie at the Southside Theatre Guild in Fairburn. Great theatre, friendly and great people. On a whole the production was done well. The set of the MacAfee house was built to perfection by Roger Johnson (and crew). As always Roger, great job. The only thing I will mention that may need some adjusting is the lighting in some scenes. This is not a jab but maybe something that can be corrected during the run of the show. At times the lighting was a little dark and I had difficulty seeing some of the actors faces. The music was supplied by a live band headed up by Jerry Mathis (sorry if spelled wrong). What can can I tell you, if Jerry is behind the music you know it is going to sound good and indeed it did. I was also happy to see that the cast was "mic'd". This made it easy to hear the vocals clearly. I also wanted to mention a few standout performances. The role of Albert was played by Johnny May. Johnny has great stage presence and is well in his element in this role. His movement and comedic timing was excellent. Johnny, well done! Another perfomance I wanted to mention was Bert Lyons as Harry MacAfee. One of my favorite moments in the play is when Harry finds out he is going to appear on the Ed Sullivan show with his family. He kept me and the audience lauging throughout the scene. He picked it right back up when he was on TV and couldn't keep from getting his mug in front of the camera. Funny stuff Bert! Finally, Ursula. (I am sorry I do not have a program in front of me and her name does not appear on the cast list on this site.) From the time she appears on stage to the time she leaves the stage she is constantly lighting it up. Talk about being on all the time and playing every little moment...she does and does it well!! Great work.|
Thank you for the performance.
[POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
| || Roger Johnson by Parrott65|
| Roger Johnson has always done great with his set designs. I remember the house he built for "All My Sons", which won him a 2006 MAT Award might I add. I think I'm going to drive down there to see this show. It has certainly sparked my interest.|
| || Ursula by airforcebrad|
| I agree, the play was really done well, and for the record, Ursula's name is Amanda Lindsey, a great talent whom I see going places and becoming a Star.|
[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]
by David Shire (music), Richard Maltby, Jr. (lyrics)