GREENSBURG – The North Decatur High School Drama Department will take the stage with its version of Bye Bye Birdie at 7 p.m. March 1, 2, and 3 and at 2 p.m. March 4 at the NDHS Cafetorium.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and may be purchased at the door. There will be concessions available for sale during intermission, and the funds go to help further drama productions.
Bye Bye Birdie tells the story of ‘60s rockstar Conrad Birdie, and the chaos that ensues when he is drafted into the Army. Agent and songwriter Albert Peterson, played by Cole Stephen, and his long-time girlfriend, Rose Alvarez, played by Shayleigh Berkheimer, come up with a plan for Conrad to give “One Last Kiss” to a fan before heading out to the Army. However, the best laid plans can still fail – in hilarious and unexpected ways.
Director Megan Gehrich said she has always loved the music, colors, and style from Bye Bye Birdie.
“It’s king of a silly show and I feel like in years past, we’ve done something heavy that doesn’t allow us to do a lot of fun, community numbers,” Gehrich said. “This show has a lot of times where the entire cast is on stage. I love that. There are moments where all of sudden it’s just two people and then everyone’s there and singing a song.”
Sophomore Tristan Ingmire plays the titular Conrad Birdie and said this character is what sets the show apart from the roughly 12 productions he’s been part of so far.
“This is the first show where I’ve gotten to play the cool guy. I wear glasses a lot and look real nerdy most of the time,” Tristan said. “Generally, I either play the hero or the guy who is just kind of really shy. I’ve played the villain a couple of times. It’s been interesting to say the least.”
The most difficult part of the show, Ingmire said, is Conrad’s vocal range, as he has to hit three octaves in a single song. However, his favorite part of the show makes up for it.
“I really like wearing those shades with the leather jacket,” Ingmire said. “I’m not going to lie, it feels pretty cool.”
Ingmire said the show has a really young cast this year, as North Decatur lost several seniors with graduation last year.
“It’s good to know that the drama club is going to be in good hands. We have a lot of talent, especially in this cast. We’ve had a lot of people step up to do insanely difficult things lately and it’s just been amazing,” Tristan said.
Senior Caleb Farber, who plays the excitable Harry MacAfee, agreed with Tristan.
“I am sad about leaving, but I’m really glad because even the seventh graders this year, a lot of them really impressed me,” Caleb said. “The way the seventh graders have been able to come in so young, it’s their first show, but it seems like they’ve been doing this for years. So I’m really glad the department will be in good hands.”
Caleb said this character is different from the others he has played, largely because of MacAfee’s wild mood swings.
“My character, he really has several mood swings, major mood swings. In one moment, he’s calm, then the next he’s yelling at the top of his lungs, and two seconds later he’s happy as can be.”
Along with those mood swings comes a fair bit of yelling, and that combined with his song “Kids” proved to be the most challenging aspect to the role. Caleb said it’s what they have in common that is his favorite part, though.
“I guess my character is a lot like me. I’m one of the very few people around here that if I don’t look like a moron, then I’m not having fun. My character, when he gets on national television, he looks like a complete moron and that’s something that I would do real well,” Caleb said. “I think you should just come see the show because even though it takes place in the ‘60s, I think there is some of it we can relate to and it’s really funny.”
Freshman Shayleigh Berkheimer plays Rosie Alvarez, and this is not her first time on stage either. Playing the sassy Spanish rose is both the hardest and favorite part of the role for Shayleigh, though playing someone in love is what sets this character apart.
“Probably all of the singing, because my throat gets really dry, or being Spanish, because I’m not Spanish,” she said of the most challenging aspect of the show. But added her favorite part was, “Also being Spanish. I love it all at the same time.”
When asked what she would like the community to know about the show, Shayleigh said, “That it’s amazing and they should come see it. We’ve worked really hard for it and I think all of this effort is worth something. We really tried hard to make an impact.”
Junior Eugena Mack plays Kim MacAfee, the lucky winner of Conrad’s last kiss. While it’s not her first time on stage, Gena said the singing was the biggest challenge to her because “it makes me really nervous and I’ve never really done it by myself before.”
She added, “My favorite part is acting like my character. I love being overly dramatic with it and just being a teenager.”
Gena also commented on the young cast members. “I like that we have a lot of young people. I don’t think that’s very common. It’s really challenging, but at the same time it’s awesome because we know we’ll have a lot of good people next year.”
Cole Stephen, who plays the role of Albert Peterson, said the size of his role is what sets Bye Bye Birdie apart from the other shows he’d done.
For him, “the lines and losing my voice” were the biggest challenges, while “just being with the cast,” is his favorite part. “We have a family here in drama club.”
Gehrich addressed the age of the cast and the challenges it has provided. “It has been really unique in the sense that we lost 10 really talented seniors and we have a stage full of talented people, but when you lose 10 very strong leaders, you have to kind of start from ground zero. We have had some growing pains, but I think that’s normal for any good organization to have and to have to manage and deal with. Once we got through those growing pains, honestly, we’re seeing a totally different cast.”
The biggest challenge to the show has been the sets and scene changes. Gehrich said Tech. Director Brian Ingmire designed eight triangle sets, each with a unique covering, which allows up to 24 possible set designs.
“I think it’s awesome and amazing and makes it versatile for what we can do in the future,” Gehrich said. “Though our stage is humble, we love our stage. We want to take what we have and use it to the best of our ability because it shows that this is important to us. We want to make sure that no matter what space we’re given, it’s going to be amazing.”
For the director, reaching the point at which she hands the show off to the actors is her favorite part, though in this particular show, the song “Healthy, Normal American Boy” is a favorite as well.
“It’s chaos, and I love when choreographed chaos happens on stage,” Gehrich said.
Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111x7010; email@example.com
Cast and Crew
Director: Megan Gehrich
Tech Director: Brian Ingmire
Nur Asyiqah Abd Malek
Claudia Valverde Sanchez