The Saville theatre is empty, a baby grand piano sits in the center of the stage, and the sounds of eager auditioners are heard just outside the theatre doors.
In a few minutes the theatre will be filled with hopeful performers of all ages who will take the stage to sing and dance their hearts out, hoping to get a part in the City College fall production of “Bye Bye Birdie,” written by Michael Stewart, lyrics by Lee Adams and music by Charles Strouse. The production, directed by June E. Richards, will be musically directed by Michael Farley and choreographed by Alicia Rincon.
About thirty-five people wait to audition. One by one they walk on stage, hand their music to pianist Sylvia Lorraine, and take center stage to sing. If they don’t have music, which some don’t, they are encouraged to sing “Happy Birthday To You”.
The atmosphere is comfortable and laid back, though it doesn’t seem to kill the nerves of most. Anya Tuerk, the second auditioner, gets up and belts out her song with confidence.
“My husband is in a Navy band,” explains Tuerk, “and I come from a musical family. We just recently moved here to San Diego and since he is busy musically, I thought I’d give this a try.”
Richards, artistic director of the Saville Theatre and co-chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department, has been at the theatre since 1998 and says that every fall, they choose a family friendly piece that all audiences can enjoy.
“When I chose ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ last year,” said Richards, “I had no idea of its recent revival plans on Broadway. I chose the piece because I knew it would be a good co-production to do with San Diego High School.”
Once a year, San Diego City College collaborates with San Diego High School and casts their students in the fall production. Richards continued, “This production just happens to be tailor made for this collaboration since half the cast is comprised of high school students. It is also one of the top produced shows in high schools, colleges and universities.”
Michael Kuester, who played Horton in last years “Seussical,” will be playing Albert Peterson. Tony Kalman, who was last seen on the Saville stage in “42nd Street,” will play the Mayor. Rocky DeHaro, first seen as Joseph in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the Saville theatre, will be playing rock star Conrad Birdie. And Ian McAvoy, the new drama teacher at San Diego High School, will be playing various ensemble roles.
“We are very lucky to be able to have a full orchestra here,” said Richards, “many people will donate their time to help us out.”
“Bye Bye Birdie” will rehearse for the next 7 weeks and will open on October 30. The play will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until November 15.
For tickets or for further information, contact June Richards at 619-388-3617.