SIOUX CENTER—Sioux Center High School students are bringing the musical “Bye Bye Birdie” to Te Paske Theatre this weekend.
Fifty-three cast members and seven stage and technical crew will put on shows 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 9-10, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11.
Set in 1958, the story was inspired by the phenomenon of popular singer Elvis Presley and his draft notice into the Army in 1957. The rock star character’s name, “Conrad Birdie,” is word play on the name of Conway Twitty. Twitty is best remembered today for his long career as a country music star, but in the late 1950s, he was one of Presley’s rock ‘n’ roll rivals.
Logan Fehlhafer stars as Conrad Birdie in the Sioux Center production.
“I selected this show for many reasons,” said director Gretchen Bruhn. “I wanted to produce a fun, upbeat show this year that the kids could really get into. I also took into consideration what music students we would have auditioning for the various parts. I always need to consider the number of boys and girls, their experience on stage and their vocal abilities. ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ seemed to fit us well this year.”
This musical has the challenges that many musicals have.
“The chorus members have some serious acting to do,” Bruhn said. “They are townspeople who are absolutely crazy about Conrad Birdie, and to get many high school kids to act ‘over the top’ crazy on stage is always a little challenging.
Bruhn said this musical also has a lot of moving parts and the scenes change very quickly, so stage crew and actors have had a challenge getting all of that to work smoothly.
Set building and practices began in early September. From mid-September to mid-October, while Dordt College uses TePaske Theater for it production, the high school students held their practices in the gym.
“That is not always conducive to great practices, but the students handled it pretty well this year,” Bruhn said. “It’s always a big transition when we move into the theater. I’ve appreciate the flexibility of our cast and chorus this year with all of the transitions.
Once again Bruhn has enjoyed working with this cast and chorus this year.
“We have some very committed upper classmen who have provided great leadership,” she said. “These kids are exceptionally busy. They go to school, play sports, have jobs, attend church activities, etc. Adding in hours and hours of musical practice can be stressful, but they are all in the musical because they want to be and it shows.”
She also enjoys the songs in “Bye Bye Birdie.”
“It is fun, catchy music that has stuck with me throughout the production,” she said.