‘Bye Bye Birdie’ brings Broadway to City College

Brittany Johnson

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“So put on a happy face,” sang cast member and student Michael Kuester during rehearsal for the upcoming musical “Bye Bye Birdie” while the cast and crew diligently and independently practiced their parts.
City College students, along with choreographer Alicia Rincon, musical director Mike Farley, and director June Richards are putting forth their best effort and full attention to detail 3 weeks before opening night.
Rehearsal began with a dance warm up led by Rincon, and as soon as Richards arrived, the run through began.
Stage Manager and student Devin Morrow with spotted script in hand, was working hard to prepare the set. The scene shop class is currently in production with props and sets. “It’s great to have so many people [in shop class] working hard, ” commented Devin. “This is a really great cast too; a great group of people.”
After speaking to a few of the cast members and watching rehearsal, one could see this was a professional group of actors.
“Things will start moving along quickly,” said Morrow, and they did.
Richards sat alongside Rincon on stage critiquing the actors as they ran through act one. “I gotta believe it, give me more,” commented Richards. The actors immediately readjusted their presentation and continued on nonchalantly.
“Bye Bye Birdie” is a stage musical from a book by Michael Stewart, lyrics by Lee Adams and music by Charles Stouse. It began on Broadway in 1960 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1961.
“This is a well known musical. The music writing is wonderful as well as the song lyrics,” said actor and student Rocky Deharo. “I have wanted to do this musical for a long time, and I always wanted to play the part of Conrad Birdie.” Deharo is putting his local theater talents and skills acquired as a fine arts major to play the role of Conrad Birdie.
Stars of the show and students Suzanne Embry, who plays Rosie DeLeon, and Kuester, playing Albert F. Peterson, have been involved in theater their entire lives. “As a Hispanic actress I feel honored to have a lead role,” Embry said.
Preparing for the musical is no sweat for these performers. Kuester said “I love working with June Richards and I love the music.” The rehearsals are his favorite part of the process because it puts the finishing touches on all the hard work.
“Everyone should come see this musical. You’ll leave with a smile on your face, because it’s feel good entertainment,” said Embry.
Deharo said it is a great musical for first timers. “If you haven’t seen it, you should come. It will make you forget your life for a few hours and make you laugh and smile.”
“Bye Bye Birdie” premieres Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. in Saville Theatre and runs Friday through Sunday for the following three weeks. General admission tickets are $15. Student, senior and military service men and women tickets are $10. For reservations please call (619) 388-3676. For more information visit www.sdcity.edu/savilletheater/events.asp.

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