“When Elvis Presley went into the Army — back when he was the biggest star in the world — the news was that he was going into the Army and he wasn’t going to be a performer for awhile,” said Steve Shapiro, co-producer of Sunnyvale Community Players’ (www.sunnyvaleplayers.org) “Bye Bye Birdie,” a musical set in the 1950s. “In ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ Birdie is the last name of a rock star named Conrad Birdie who is going into the Army. Conrad has an agent named Albert. The only successful act Albert is managing is Conrad. Albert is worried he won’t have a career once Conrad goes into the
Army. Rosie is Albert’s assistant. Rosie plans for Conrad Birdie to kiss Kim, his fan club president, on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’”
What sets this show apart from other Sunnyvale Community Players’ shows is that it is a junior production for kids from ages 8 to 18. The show will run through March 10. Directed by Marcie Shapiro, the Jump Jive cast’s Feb. 20 dress rehearsal told a story about how people pursued their idea of the American dream during the post-Depression era.
Caught up in the glamour of show business, Albert received a reminder that his true aspiration was to be an English teacher when Rosie (Madison Wenig) wistfully sang, “An English Teacher.”
“The American dream has so much relying on financial success. That’s how I thought about it in terms of this musical,” said Nils Forstall, 16, who played Albert. “Albert is looking for that financial success even though that’s not what he wants. He’s living the life his mom wants him to live. He gets swept up in the culture of making it big with lots of money.”
Skyler Riordan, who played Harry MacAfee, was Kim’s no-nonsense father. Hungry for 15 minutes of fame, he jumped at the idea of appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show while singing with gusto to “Hymn for a Sunday Evening.”
“Harry came from the Greatest Generation, the generation before the Baby Boomers — that’s the generation that his children, Kim and Randolph, came from,” Riordan said. “Harry came from the World War II generation and the perspective that the U.S. was the best. Harry thinks he deserves everything and that everybody else doesn’t deserve anything. That ties into history, how the U.S. wanted to run the world during that time. Harry is a characterization of the perspective that the U.S. had.”
Whitney Moore, who played Kim, showed a teenage girl who wanted to prove her maturity and sophistication when she sang “What Did I Ever See In Him?” The song expressed Kim’s frustration with her jealous boyfriend, Hugo (Cirdan Wang).
“I think Kim is trying to keep up a facade and image that she is grown up and that she knows what she is doing,” Moore said. “She wants to be in the cool crowd with Conrad and all his swagger. Her mom is this obedient housewife. She’s trying to show everyone she can be reckless and strong.”