Lincoln Theatre Company is presenting its summer youth
musical Bye Bye Birdie with a scream of excitement. Actually,
this isn’t an exaggeration, as the basic premise of this musical
involves Conrad Birdie, an Elvis Presley-like superstar, who, before
entering the army, is sent on a publicity stunt to small-town Sweet
Apple, Ohio to land “One Last Kiss” on lucky local girl Kim MacAfee, who
was chosen right out of the Rolodex by Conrad’s handlers. The scream of
excitement comes from the girls of Sweet Apple who endlessly sing “We
Love You, Conrad” while swooning over the pop star.
As I enjoyed the familiar old song and dance numbers,
including “Put On a Happy Face,” “A Lot of Living to Do,” and “Rosie,”
the one thing that struck me the most was that this cast was having a
blast. Plus, some fun and original touches, such as a genuine-looking
1950s clock in the MacAfee kitchen, added intrigue to this lively
Charlie Mullinix’ Albert Peterson was a befuddled
pushover in contrast to Sierra Nevin’s Rosie Alvarez, who had a
no-nonsense approach to her character and terrific singing chops.
Albert’s mother, Mae Peterson, was played with verklempt humor by Ayla
Kubochi. The MacAfee family’s tongue-in-cheek banter was an amusing
accompaniment for Kim, the MacAfee daughter and soon-to-be-kissee,
energetically played by Zoey Dennis. Featured dancers Stephen McConnell
and Jules Felt showed off some fabulous choreography which even included
a tap number. Nick Hancock’s alluring Conrad Birdie winked, flipped his
head around and even glad-handed the audience during long set changes.
This was a charming production which transported the
audience to a time of bouffant hairdos and poodle skirts, accessibility
to pop stars, and a straightforward and simple scenario. Come on down to
Lincoln and enjoy a musical seldom done anymore, Bye Bye Birdie.