What’s the story, morning glory? What’s the tale, nightingale? It seems Bye, Bye, Birdie is one of the shows to watch this season, and I can see why. It is a show that really rocks. Bye, Bye, Birdie opened on Broadway in 1960 with a plot ripped right from the recent headlines of Elvis Presley’s induction into the U.S. Army. Here teen idol Conrad Birdie (Nick Henderson), has been drafted, and his manager Albert Peterson (Scott Shaffer) and his assistant Rose Alvarez (Tracy Kaufman), concoct a farewell publicity stunt in which a fan selected at random will receive One Last Kiss from Conrad on The Ed Sullivan Show. The girl selected is Kim MacAfee (Rachel Turner) of Sweet Apple, Ohio, who has just been “pinned” by Hugo F. Peabody (Broc Timmerman).
Shaffer plays the role of Albert Peterson with an understated humor that makes your really pay attention. Subtle movements and facials make the role funny and he has certainly found those moments throughout. Kaufman, tackling the saucy Rose Alvarez, makes it through the first act but really commands attention during “Shriner’s Ballet” and “Spanish Rose” toward the end of the second act.
The versatile and charming Denver actress, Rachel Turner, who finished playing the role of Judy in the Town Hall production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, then moved to a rather demanding role in Ancient History, now takes the stage as the young and innocent Kim MacAfee. “Bye Bye Birdie is always a show that I wanted to do and I always wanted to play Kim,” says the all too talented Turner. “This cast is full of very kind and caring people. It’s been such a great experience.” Turner plays the role with such a likeable and endearing (for lack of a better word) quality that makes it almost impossible to take your eyes off her. Though she may not be the “star” of this production she certainly holds her own on stage.
Broc Timmerman does a superb job on stage as Kim’s loveable and slightly jealous boyfriend Hugo F. Peabody. Timmerman, like Shaffer, has also found moments of comic gold through subtly. Though he may not be on stage often, when he is there, he’s the underdog you just have to root for.
Playing friends and classmates of Kim MacAfee (Turner) are standout cast members Janelle Orsborn, who plays the upbeat, high energy, best friend, Ursula Merkle and James Miller, who plays the desperate for a date, Harvey Johnson. Orsborn squeals, squeaks, screams, jumps and wiggles around the stage declaring her undying love for Conrad Birdie and some may find it annoying but she wouldn’t be playing it correctly if she wasn’t a tad bit annoying. Miller deserves a laugh for his representation of the meek, mild and lone Johnson during “Telephone Hour”, the first major number for Candlelight’s teen chorus; the only thing missing would be an inhaler to set it over the top hysterical.
One cast member who must be mentioned is the fall on the floor, funny Heather Lacy. The actress manages to bring tears of pure joy to audience members during her short stint on stage as the Mayor’s Wife during “Honestly Sincere.” It is a number that might have been just fine without her but with the addition of her humor; the number is above and beyond.
Leading the charge for this production is Peter Mueller who alongside choreographer, Brian Burron, manages to keep the cast of this high energy show dancing, singing and bouncing around without a dull moment.
Bye, Bye Birdie is perfect for Candlelight Dinner Theatre. They may have already had some of the best dinner in dinner theatre but with Birdie underway, Candlelight is really making a name for themselves. The King and I is on deck and we shall see if they can keep up momentum opening their next season with Big River.
To purchase tickets, check out the menu, or learn more about Candlelight Dinner Theatre, go to www.ColoradoCandlelight.com