‘Bye Bye Birdie’ appropriate for today’s society?

Even with a stunning performance, spring musical still possesses questionable parts

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Courtesy of Savahna Silvas

Conrad Birdie, played by Scotty Hindy, sings as he is adored by his fans. Last weekend, Starr’s Mill students and teachers put on the classic musical “Bye Bye Birdie.” Though this play is filled with a talented cast, to a first-time viewer the show can be taken in a way the light-hearted play does not intend.

Last Friday I went with friends to see the Starr’s Mill theater production of “Bye Bye Birdie.” I have gone to all of the major plays that this school has put on since I was a freshman and every year I am always impressed, but this year I have some mixed feelings about what I witnessed.

Each dance number was full of life, each song brought out so much emotion, and ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ overall showcased the amount of talent that Starr’s Mill students have to offer.”

— A&E Editor Jordan Owens

“Bye Bye Birdie” is a musical that is set in the 1950s where teen popstar Conrad Birdie is drafted into the United States military, and at his final show his manager, Albert Peterson, comes up with a plan to have Birdie kiss long-time fan Kim MacAfee. Upon arriving to MacAfee’s hometown, Birdie turns the entire city upside down.  

The cast was nothing short of excellent. Each dance number was full of life, each song brought out so much emotion, and “Bye Bye Birdie” overall showcased the amount of talent that Starr’s Mill students have to offer. 

Performers who stuck out to me were seniors Anna Samson, Scotty Hindy, and Jake Brackett, junior Patrick Lacey, and sophomore Olivia Price. These students in particular truly got into their roles and embodied their characters.

Showcasing their beautiful voices were Samson, Price, and Hindy. Samson especially, hits all the high notes in the opening number, and Price brings such a mature voice to the immature song “How Lovely to be a Woman.” While with Hindy, well, he is able to make the audience smile in his overall singing and acting because of the personality that transfers through. 

Though there were many comedic performers and scenes throughout the play, the ones featuring Jake Brackett and Patrick Lacey brought the phrase “laugh out loud” to a whole new level. In their debut performance, these two made the play so much more enjoyable to watch.

My problems are with the musical itself, not the performance.  

I went into the auditorium not knowing anything about the play besides the name of it. If I had not read the plot summary during intermission, I would not have truly known what it was about. 

Knowing the language that is used and seeing the tension in our society right now, there should have been some sort of warning at the beginning or during intermission. ”

— A&E Editor Jordan Owens

Watching the first half, I thought “Bye Bye Birdie” followed the love story of Albert Peterson and Rose Alvarez. Though this take did not make much sense because the title of the musical is “Bye Bye Birdie” not “The Love Story of Albert Peterson and Rose Alvarez,” meaning the main plot should be about Conrad Birdie. 

I also had a problem with how many unnecessary scenes there were. I understand having a couple of these scenes in order to include more songs since it is a musical, but it felt like within the two and a half to three-hour play majority were just filler scenes. 

What annoyed me the most though was the number of prejudice comments that the character Rose Alvarez came to face.  

For people who knew what this musical was about and the characters that were in it, these comments did not come as a shock. Although for others, they may have been uncomfortable whenever Albert’s mother was on the stage talking about Rose, especially with the line “… a Mexican Rose who came over for the fruit picking season and stayed to ruin an American woman’s life.” Some could have also been uncomfortable with the song “Spanish Rose,” even though it is meant to be a joke.

Now I understand that since this is not a play written by someone at Starr’s Mill High School, but one that has been around for 60 years and the director has no control over what is in it, they still know what happens and what is said. Knowing the language that is used and seeing the tension in our society right now, there should have been some sort of warning at the beginning or during intermission. 

Thankfully, the actual performances of the students distracted me from some of this. 

For first time audience members the cast and crew of “Bye Bye Birdie” distracted from some of the more uncomfortable scenes that this musical contained — further proof of the talent the school’s theater group has.