CCPA Celebrates Third Birthday with Benefit Production of BYE BYE BIRDIE Tonight

Article Pixel

The Coralville Center for the Performing Arts will celebrate its third birthday with a special benefit production of the Broadway hit Bye, Bye Birdie. The cast includes Kristen Behrendt DeGrazia as Kim, Howard Meadows as Conrad Birdie, Krista Neumann as Rose, and John Marshall as Albert.

This satire on American society is set in 1958 and inspired by Elvis Presley's draft into the Army in 1957. When singer Conrad Birdie is drafted into the army, his manager arranges for him to travel to a small Ohio town to make his "farewell" television appearance, complete with a kiss for his biggest fan. Musical numbers include "The Telephone Hour," "Put on a Happy Face," "Kids," and "Spanish Rose."

For this production, directed by Richard Tiegs with musical direction by Wes Habley, the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts is presenting a twist on the high school musical production. Instead of teens playing older roles, this show allows older actors to perform teenage roles they may have missed the opportunity to portray in their youth! "The idea grew out of a City Circle Acting Company board retreat," says CCPA Managing Director Megan Flanagan. "The board was discussing ideas for increasing opportunities for all our community's residents to be involved in productions. One of the members was lamenting the fact that most of the really juicy roles in musical theater are written for performers in their teens and early twenties, and how women especially are "too old" for many roles by the time they are 35. Another board member suggested that we produce a show specifically to allow more mature performers the chance to sink their teeth into those roles."

Director Tiegs says, "Bye Bye Birdie is not simply a piece from America's rich heritage. Its themes and subtexts speak to us as clearly and as loudly today as they did 55 years ago when the show was conceived. I have been fortunate to work with a mature cast and production team who have allowed me to bring that out in this production." "Working with a mature cast has been an amazing experience," says Habley. "While some cast members have continued to perform throughout their lives, others have not been on stage since high school."

This minimally-staged production features the orchestra on stage, placing the emphasis on the memorable musical numbers. There will also be special dance numbers courtesy of Payton Proud.

The Center will serve birthday cake to the audience following each performance.

Tickets ($22; $17 for students/seniors 55+; $12 for children 10 and under) are available by phone at 319.248.9370, online at, and in person at the CCPA box office (1301 5th Street) and Coralville Rec Center (1506 8th Street). Special premium sponsor tickets ($50) are available for the August 22 performance and include premium seating, program recognition, and a pre-show reception at TheLuxeZone. Patrons should call 319.248.9370 or visit the box office for those tickets.

Kristen Behrendt DeGrazia (Kim) is a supporter of and frequent performer with Corridor area theatre. She has performed in 5 seasons of Iowa Summer Rep and many productions with Riverside Theatre. Before moving to Iowa City, Kristen performed with various theatres in Chicago and spent 5 years performing on Broadway in musicals including Sunset Boulevard, Side Show and LES MISERABLES. She also toured the nation playing the role of Fantine in Les Mis. Kristen holds a B.F.A in Musical Theatre from the University of Michigan. Her favorite role (in which she co-stars with husband, Jordan DeGrazia) is that of Mom to Mason, Maia and Tess.

John Marshall's (Albert Peterson) acting credits include more than 20 parts in summer stock, including leading roles as Harold Hill (The Music Man), Billy Bigelow (Carousel), Frank Butler (Annie Get Your Gun), Fredrick (Pirates of Penzance) and more. Locally, John is known for his roles in shows and many barbershop quartets.

Krista Neumann (Rose) was a professional actress in the 70's and 80's after which she retired to raise a family. Born and raised in Chicago, Krista has a BA in Speech and Theatre from Carthage College, has taught theatre at middle school and high school level, and has run a successful community theatre, T4.C in Southern California. Her directing credits include: A View From The Bridge, Don't Drink The Water, Universal Language and The Philadelphia, from All in the Timing, Godspell with Zachary Levi, Teach Me How To Cry, The Time Of Your Life, Great Expectations, Annie, The Sound of Music, 42nd St, and Crazy For You, Spamalot, The Wizard of Oz, and White Christmas.

Howard Meadows (Conrad Birdie) is retired from The University of Iowa and was a high school freshman when Bye Bye Birdie first hit the stage in 1960! He has been in many productions for ICCT, City Circle, and The Old Creamery Theatre and enjoys singing with a local group called "Musical Comedy Troupe".

Owned and operated by the City of Coralville, the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts is dedicated to enriching the community and contributing to the vitality of Coralville by offering an accessible, affordable venue for a variety of performances, presentations, and public and private events. The 472 seat theater opened August 26, 2011 and has hosted performances from City Circle Acting Company, Orchestra Iowa, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Dan Knight, Lola Astanova, Lorie Line, Judy Carmichael, Jim McDonough, Nolte Academy of Dance, and many others. Coralville schools are also able to use the Center free of charge up to three times per year; 15 school events took place at the Center in the 2013-2014 school year. The Center was named 2012 Member of the Year by the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Related Articles View More Des Moines Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You