Albert Einstein High School
Potomac Senior High School's wacky and spirited production of Bye Bye Birdie was a delightful night of fanatic 50s fun.
The musical Bye Bye Birdie, written by Michael Stewart with music by Charles Strouse, opened in 1960, three years after Elvis Presley was drafted. The plot revolves around an agent named Albert Peterson who struggles with trying to handle the publicity craze of his singer Conrad Birdie joining the army, while simultaneously managing a tumultuous relationship between his mother and his secretary love interest Rosie Alvarez. After winning four Tony Awards, it spawned a film in 1963 starring Dick Van Dyke and a lesser known sequel called "Bring Back Birdie" in 1981.
A true rock star, Emmanuel Kikoni was endlessly entertaining as the titular Conrad Birdie. His swanky charisma, golden voice, and stylish dance moves sent laughs and chills through the audience during his show-stopping "Honestly Sincere". Kikoni also deserves praise for taking on the choreography that made expert use of the show's ensemble. The dancing was an absolute joy to watch throughout the entire night. Led by the endearing Breyana Hopkins (Ursula), their girly squeals and lovesick facial expressions lit up the stage in numbers like "A Healthy Normal American Boy" and "A Lot of Livin' To Do".
Taylor Aragon and Lyndy Minitrez excelled as the show's female leads. Bringing a youthful energy to the production, Taylor Aragon (Kim MacAfee) was charming and played off the rest of the cast beautifully. Lyndy Minitrez (Rosie Alvarez) stood out as a bold and memorable performer. Her powerful singing voice was an undeniable highlight of the show.
Potomac Senior High School's performance also benefited from laudable comic performances. Malik Carter stood out in his portrayal of the over-protective Mr. MacAfee, while Grace Gyamfi (Mrs. Mae Peterson) stole the show in the second act with her melodramatic performance of "A Mother Doesn't Matter Anymore". Her hilarious chemistry with mama's boy Gary Kern (Albert Peterson) had the audience in stitches. While the cast's commitment to their characters' physicality was not always consistent, their comedic timing was rich and effective.
The production was visually appealing, thanks to the noticeably detailed set pieces, costumes, and even special effects. One effect, making use of a camera and a projector screen, gave the scene a real sense of worldwide significance. Aside from a few moments where the music overpowered the onstage vocals, the actors generally projected successfully and did not let their limited sound system have a negative impact on the show.
It is clear that Potomac Senior High School has a wide group of hard-working and passionate theatre kids. Their production of Bye Bye Birdie was guaranteed to make you put on a happy face.
W. T. Woodson High School
As the lights went down in the auditorium of Potomac Senior High School and the overture began to play, I wondered what was in store. The answer came immediately when the screams of the Conrad Birdie Fan Club rang through the theatre: I was about to experience an energetic performance from a dedicated cast.
Bye Bye Birdie first opened on Broadway in 1960 with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Lee Adams, and a book by Michael Stewart. The show follows rock & roll idol Conrad Birdie who has been drafted into the Army, inspired by the same event happening in 1958 with popular singer Elvis Presley. Conrad's manager Albert Peterson plans to rejuvenate Conrad's image before he is sent off to war by finding a random Conrad Birdie fan, Kim MacAfee, and having Conrad kiss her goodbye on national television.
As the title character, Emmanuel Kikoni shone brightly on the stage with every hip swivel and swift dance move. Kikoni showed that he clearly possessed the charisma necessary to portray the heartthrob Conrad Birdie with the swagger of Elvis Presley. He also stood out with his vocal abilities, specifically the stamina he demonstrated by singing while dancing. What really sets Kikoni apart from the crowd in this production is that in addition to his standout performance as Conrad Birdie, he also choreographed the entire show. Kikoni's intricate choreography was consistently executed well by the entire cast during numbers such as "The Telephone Hour," "Honestly Sincere," and "A Lot of Livin' To Do."
Another standout was Lyndy Minitrez as Rosie Alvarez who set fire to the stage with her strong portrayal of the proudly Spanish woman. Minitrez mostly shone when she could show off her impressive voice in songs such as "An English Teacher" and "Spanish Rose."
Bye Bye Birdie is chalk full of humor, and this was best delivered by Grace Gyamfi (Mrs. Mae Peterson) and Breyena Hopkins (Ursula Merkle). Their comedic timing was spot on and had the audience roaring in laughter throughout the entire show. The entire teen chorus also provided many laughs as the Conrad Birdie Fan Club and kept the energy high.
Commendable was the set design which made full use of rotating panels that effectively created distinctively different settings. The set for the MacAfee kitchen was particularly creative in its incorporation of both painted panels and 3D elements that created the illusion of a real kitchen.
The incredible amount of work and dedication put in by the cast and crew certainly paid off. This is what high school theater should be!