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Bye Bye Birdie Takes the Stage This Weekend In Marysville

The Marysville Area Community Theatre will present Bye Bye Birdie Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. in the Marysville High School auditorium. Ticket prices are $10.00 for adults, $9.00 for senior citizens, and $5.00 for students.

“All summer, people have been telling me about how excited they are to see the musical,” said Wayne Kruse, the show’s director. “Once they start talking about the show, they have specific stories to share about their experiences with the production. For some, they remember the iconic movie with Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh. For others, they were in their high school’s production, and they have fond memories to share.”

In 1988, the Marysville High School drama department presented Bye Bye Birdie. At that time, Julie Hagemeier was the drama teacher; currently, Hagemeier is the General Manager of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

“What a fun and joyous show,” Hagemeier said. “A bit of nostalgia for the early days of rock ‘n roll mixed with the crazy comedy of a small town being visited by a celebrity and what that does to relationships.”

Mike Argo, son of Dr. and Mrs. Don. Argo, played the title role of Conrad Birdie while Julie Meyer, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rodney Meyer, played the role of Kim MacAfee, the lucky teen chosen to receive Conrad’s last kiss before he goes into the Army.

“I remember having a lot of fun with ‘The Telephone Hour’ set as well as trying to get Mike Argo to shake those hips,” Hagemeier remembered.

Several years later, Jan Pope, an English teacher at Valley Heights High School, decided to do an all-school musical. She chose Bye Bye Birdie which they presented at the Waterville Opera House.

“That was the first musical I ever directed for high school,” Pope said. “I had no idea what I was doing or what was ahead of us.”

Pope chose the show because there were parts for multiple actors. “The musical has something for everyone, young and old, male and female,” she explained. “There are so many parts of the script that ring true to each of us. Though teenagers love it, I think you relate to it even more the older you get.”

Kruse agrees. “The show appeals to everyone. Really, it’s a sweet, simple show that’s filled with lots of laughter and some fun songs. Plus, the age-old struggle between the various generations is something with which we can all relate.”

In the community theatre’s production, Tim Laughlin, Waterville, plays the title role of Conrad Birdie while Bryan Kracht, Marysville, plays his manager, Albert Peterson. Jess Price, Marysville, portrays Albert’s secretary and love interest, Rose Alvarez. Katie Malotte, Marysville, plays Kim MacAfee who is chosen to kiss Birdie on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

There are forty-four members of the cast who come from Marshall, Washington, and Riley Counties. “It’s a diverse group,” said Kruse. “Rehearsals have been a lot of fun because of the unique mixture of the cast. Plus, the leading actors have exhibited outstanding leadership and talent. The final product should be top-notch.”

Kruse serves as the show’s director while Tam Johnson Gordon serves as the musical director. Gordon has been working with the actors on vocal support and articulation to assure that each song is properly performed. Additionally, she has spent time on specific songs which require the actors to sing in harmony. “This show has several numbers that have beautiful harmonies,” Gordon said. “For example, there’s a beautiful song in the second act that Bryan Kracht sings while all of the men serve as his back-up singers. They sound great.”

During the show’s last week of rehearsals, Gordon assumes the role of orchestra conductor.

“We are so fortunate that we have a live orchestra,” Gordon said. “In an age where it’s easy to rely on electronic devices and technology to provide the music, I’m thrilled that we use area musicians to play in the orchestra. The sound is exhilarating.”

Gordon will conduct the fourteen-member orchestra. Like the cast, the orchestra is a mix of residents from surrounding counties. “All of them are outstanding musicians,” Gordon said. “It’s a pleasure to work with them.”

Like others, Gordon has fond memories of Bye Bye Birdie. She remembers Marysville High School’s production because she played in the orchestra. “I played the piano for that production, and had a great time,” she said. “I can still see Mike Argo shaking his hips and belting out the songs. It’s been fun to do this musical again. I hope people enjoy our production as much as we’ve enjoyed working on it.”

Tickets for the production may be purchased at the Marysville Chamber of Commerce office until Friday, July 23. The office is located at 101 North 10th Street, Marysville; office hours are from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The Chamber’s phone number is 785-562-3101.

Tickets will also be sold at the door one hour prior to each performance. All seats are reserved.

About Derek Nester

Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communication. After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. 6 radio stations. In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production assistant for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on 69 radio stations across 9 Midwest states.