The Hippo


May 29, 2020








The Majestic Theatre presents Bye, Bye Birdie. Courtesy photos. ‚Äč

Bye, Bye, Birdie: Young Performers’ Edition 

Where: Derry Opera House, 29 W. Broadway, Derry 
When: Friday, Jan. 26, and Saturday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. 
Tickets: $15 for adults, $13 for seniors 65+, and $10 for children age 17 and under 
More info:, 669-7469

Kids go classic
The Majestic Theatre youth take on Bye, Bye, Birdie

By Angie Sykeny

 The Majestic Theatre travels back to the ’50s with its youth production of Bye, Bye, Birdie, opening Friday, Jan. 26, at the Derry Opera House. 

The Broadway classic is set in 1958 in the small town of Sweet Apple, Ohio, and centers around an Elvis-like rock ’n’ roll star named Conrad Birdie who, to the dismay of his enamored fans, is drafted into the Army. As a publicity stunt, Birdie’s agent and songwriter arranges for Birdie to appear on a television program, where he will perform a new song called “One Last Kiss” and give one lucky girl from his fan club a real last kiss before reporting for duty. Nothing goes as planned, however, when the boyfriend of the chosen girl becomes jealous, among other complications. 
The Majestic Theatre will perform the “Young Performers’ Edition” of the musical, which is adapted for youth theater. 
“Some junior versions [of plays and musicals] are better than others, but the Bye, Bye, Birdie one is really well done,” Musical Director Rob Dionne said. “[The adaptation developers] cut it back without compromising the story line, and they kept a good feel to the show while putting it at a level that kids and teens can perform.” 
Unlike many musicals that keep to one musical style throughout the score, Dionne said, Bye, Bye, Birdie showcases the diversity of musical styles represented in the ’50s and ’60s, “from Calypso and Latin music to pop ballads and classic rock and roll.” 
“Nearly every one of the numbers is a crowd-pleaser,” Director Jocelyn Duford said. “They’re high-energy, silly and have a lot of heart, which audiences love.” 
“You leave the show humming the songs,” Dionne added. “That’s the way classic Broadway music was written, and this show is classic Broadway at its best.” 
With many of the musical numbers involving ensemble chorus parts and choreography, the show calls for a relatively large cast; it consists of 36 kids, ages 7 through 15, with a mix of well-seasoned and newbie performers. 
Dionne and Duford decided to keep the production as close to the original as possible and refrain from doing any alternative interpretations. 
“Just the fact that you have kids and teens doing a show written for adults puts a spin on it and gives it a different feel,” Dionne said. “There’s a certain innocence that kids bring to the show that you don’t get from adult actors.” 
Having youth actors play adult characters does pose some challenges, however, particularly with the characters involved in romantic subplots. 
“Anytime you do a show like this with kids, you have to do it in a way that’s comfortable for them,” Dionne said. “You have to do it in a way that they won’t feel silly, and that can be difficult.” 
While many Bye, Bye, Birdie productions feature “humongous, over-the-top and hyperrealistic sets,” Duford said, The Majestic Theatre will use a minimalistic set with just a few key pieces to indicate when a scene changes. 
“We want to keep the focus on the actors rather than a big distracting set. We want to have them bring the scenes to life, and leave some of it up to the audience’s imagination,” she said. “It’s a good challenge for the kids. They have to think, ‘There isn’t much of a set, so we really need to feel where we are [in the scene] and bring that out for audience.”

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