Audiences all over the Lowcountry will be “putting on a happy face” with Flowertown Players’ 42nd season opener, Bye Bye Birdie. Set in 1958, the rock and roll heartthrob Conrad Birdie, inspired by the one and only Elvis Presley, was a phenomenon across the world. A parody of Elvis’ life, Conrad is drafted into the military, giving him one last chance to make a big impression on his fans. In a stunt arranged by his Manager, Albert Peterson, he chooses an All-American girl, Kim McAfee, for a very public farewell kiss. Actress Sydney Tarrant (Kim McAfee) says she loves how her character is, “passionate about everything and how excited about life she is.” So when given the chance to kiss the beloved singer before his inevitable departure, she is over the moon with joy. You know who’s not excited? Her boyfriend Hugo Peabody played by actor, Caleb O’Neil. Hilarity, high-energy dances, and classic songs bring the 1960's to life for all audiences as Hugo, Kim, and Conrad’s love triangle takes shape.
Director David McLaughlin (Musical Director of Legally Blonde and Director of West Side Story) takes on this 60's musical teenage romp with experience and excitement. "You know and love the songs, you'll relate to the characters and everyone will be dancing in their seats as my team and I breathe new life into one of musical theatres' favorite shows," says McLaughlin. Sydney Tarrant couldn’t agree more joking, “I joke with my husband that we grew up in the wrong time; we should have been in the ‘50s. I’ll be really surprised if I don’t see people dancing along in their seats and leaving with a big old smile on their face.”
Having put everything they had into Bye Bye Birdie, the writers knew it would be a hit. The
original Broadway production opened at the Martin Beck Theater in 1960 and ran for 607 performances, winning the 1961 Tony Award for the Best Musical. Dick Van Dyke recreated his 1961 Tony Award winning performance for Best Featured Actor in a Musical in the filmed production which earned $6 million at the box office, equivalent to (roughly) $47 million in 2017. Producers of the popular Bye, Bye, Birdie film version approached Elvis himself to star as Birdie, but Presley's manager declined, nixing any roles for Elvis that could be viewed as self-parody. Conrad Birdie’s name was the result of composers Charles Strouse and Lee Adams finding the name of real-life singer Conway Twitty far more humorous and safer to parody than Elvis. Our Conrad Birdie, played by newcomer, Luke Holt, draws inspiration from Elvis but says his favorite ’60s star was James Brown. Holt credits that the show is “fun” and full of “his moves, hips, and hair.”
Our Spanish rose, Rosie, played by Flowertown Players’ acting instructor, Elissa Horrell, says audiences can expect the show to be, “fast paced and entertaining.” You don’t want to miss this hip-swinging good time. Bye Bye Birdie runs August 4 – 20. Tickets are on sale now from $15-$30 at www.flowertownplayers.org, in person at 133 S. Main St. Summerville, SC, or over the phone at 843-875-9251.
GET IN ON THE ACTION:
DANCE YOUR BUTT OFF! In the spirit of Bye Bye Birdie we are hosting a 1960's Dance Off Contest. Submit a video of your best or funniest dance moves to your favorite 1960's jam on our FACEBOOK. The video with the most likes will receive 2 tickets to Bye Bye Birdie! To get us started the cast of Bye Bye Birdie shakes their romp to Elvis' "Hound Dog." Let's see what you can do!