By Evan Da Silva
In celebration of the school’s 50th anniversary, the San Clemente High School Theatre Arts Department will be producing a modern twist on the Broadway classic, Bye Bye Birdie.
After Conrad Birdie (Parsa Alihemati), a pop star and teenage heartthrob, is drafted into the United States Army, his manager looks to send-off the performer in a dramatic and lucrative fashion. With the help of his secretary and longtime girlfriend Rosie Alvarez (Alex Shultz), Birdie’s manager and struggling songwriter Al Peterson (Evan Harris) formulates one last publicity stunt that lands the trio in Sweet Apple, Ohio. The city is sent into a frenzy as Birdie is set to preform Peterson’s new song “One Last Kiss” and give a farewell kiss to the lucky Kim MacAfee (Paris Hull), a member of his fan club, on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Peterson must ensure the success of his plan to finally hit it big and marry Alvarez, his longtime sweetheart. The setting of the play, written by Michael Stewart, Lee Adams and Charles Strouse, has been time-shifted from 1958 to 1964, to coincide with SCHS’s opening.
Director Daniel Ingram is excited about the chance to tackle what he feels is a large undertaking for the department and a new challenge for himself.
“It’s the biggest musical I’ve done. My forte is more in acting and set design. It’s a bit of a learning curve for me, putting all the puzzle pieces together,” he said. “The kids have done the shows before, so they have a lot of experience.”
Ingram admits that initially, he wasn’t sure which musical he wanted to produce. However, upon realizing this year was the school’s 50th anniversary and after collaborating with other members of the arts department, “Bye Bye Birdie” was the perfect fit.
“I think there is a lot of commonalities between ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ and today,” said Ingram,” they were coming out of World War II, we’ve just come out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the sensationalism of Justin Bieber and all these boy bands is universal. It’s part of the teenage experience. There’s always going to be these fads that people go through that’s going to drive a wedge between the older generations and the younger generations.”
Students in the production share Ingram’s excitement, looking forward to the modernized choreography created by chorographer Tod Kubo, and period authentic music compiled by conductor Tony Soto and musical director Jeremy Wiggins.
“I’m super excited for the dances,” Harris said. “The dances in the show are really spectacular, something I can’t wait to show everyone.”
Cast members are equally enthusiastic about the play’s message of staying young at heart, living life in the present and making the most of what one has.
“I hope people take away that they shouldn’t try to move faster than life. Enjoy where your life is right now,” said Jon Crawford, who plays Hugo Peabody.
“You really get a sense of how people develop as characters and individuals. That’s really what the play is about, finding yourself,” said Alihemati.
Others will appreciate how the age-old struggle of parents trying to relate to their children is played-out. Some even find themselves identify more with the parents than characters of their own ages, like Colin Horan, who plays Kim’s father, Mr. MacAfee.
“It’s weird because in class or even talking to other people I find myself thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I am Mr. MacAfee,’” said Horan. “I feel like, at heart, I’m an old man.”
Ingram ultimately hopes people take away the need to dispose themselves of cynicism and avoid growing up too much.
“It’s important to keep hold of your adolescent ideals and sort of balance that with real-world practicality,” he said.
Performances will be held at the San Clemente High School Triton Center, 700 Avenida Pico, March 19-21, 26 and 27 at 7 p.m. with the final performance on March 28 at 2 p.m. General admission is $15 and $12 for seniors, military personnel, students and children. Tickets are available for purchase at the Triton Center box office or can be purchased online at www.schsdrama.com.