BWW Review: BYE BYE BIRDIE Dazzles at Warsaw Federal Incline Theater

BWW Review: BYE BYE BIRDIE Dazzles at Warsaw Federal Incline TheaterCincinnati Landmark Productions kicked off it's Summer Classics Season at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater with the 1971 Tony Winner for Best Musical, Bye Bye Birdie! The story of Bye Bye Birdie is inspired by the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley's draft notice. Heartthrob Conrad Birdie gets drafted into the army, and before he leaves, his songwriter Albert Peterson with the help of his secretary Rose Alvarez create a publicity stunt. The three of them travel from New York to Sweet Apple, Ohio to give one lucky girl, Miss Kim Macafee "one last kiss" before he leaves for war. From there, hilarity ensues. With a fun score and extremely witty book, the show is an instant hit.

Director and Executive Artistic Director of CLP, Tim Perrino added a twist to the show by having the whole production look as if it were being filmed for TV, with period cameras on either side of the stage. They also shot parts of the musical before, and play pieces of them on a screen at the top of the set so that it looks like you are seeing what's being filmed through the camera. The set mimicked that of a late 50s/early 60s TV set with all the levels and color blocking. This made for a relatively versatile play space for the actors.

Caren Brady's costumes furthered this vision with all the poodle skirts, high waisted pants, bomber jackets, and bright colors. The costumes combined with the actors' performances made it easy to jump into this 50's classic.

Leading the show as Albert Peterson is Jeremiah Plessinger. Plessinger has excellent comedic timing as the "mama's boy" songwriter, and his voice croons over the classic tunes such as: "Put on a Happy Face" and "Rosie". I found myself captivated by his "Baby, Talk to Me". In this song, he is begging for Rose to return to him, and he played it so honestly.

Renee Stoltzfus played the fiery secretary and love interest of Albert, Rose Alvarez. This role was a perfect opportunity for Stoltzfus to showcase her triple-threat talents. Jeni Bayer Schwiers' choreography combined with Stoltzfus's stunning dancing made the "One Hundred Ways Ballet" one of the standout numbers of the show.

Rising CCM Musical Theatre Sophomore, Mikayla Renfrow shined as Kim Macafee. Renfrow's beautiful soprano voice soared in her songs including: "How Lovely to Be a Woman" , and "One Boy". She also had great use of physical comedy such as feeling woozy from even the mention of heartthrob Conrad Birdie.

Other standout performances included: David Emery as Conrad Birdie, Angela Alexander Nalley as the hilarious Mae Peterson, Samantha Stapleton as Mrs. Doris Macafee, and Dylan McGill as Mr. Harry Macafee.

The whole cast teems with talent, energy which makes the audience want to "put on a happy face". There's "a lot of livin' to do" at CLP's Bye Bye Birdie, so don't miss it as it runs at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre through May 27!

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From This Author Anne Simendinger

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