'Bye Bye Birdie!' on stage

| 10 Jul 2012 | 04:51

SUSSEX — A cast of more than 40 young performers take to the stage for Cornerstone Theatre's production of "Bye Bye Birdie!" Students from first grade through college have been in rehearsal for the last six weeks for this energetic show.

The cast is comprised of students from all over Sussex, Morris and Passaic counties. The lead roles of Albert Peterson and Rose Alvarez are performed by Kenny Roggenkamp of Dover and Olivia Clavel-Davis of Newton. The featured role of Conrad Birdie is played by Tom Wright of Branchville and the comic role of Mae Peterson is portrayed by Anna Gelpke of Randolph.

The McAffee family features Tim Chenard from Hampton as Mr. McAffee, Katie Brizek of Sparta as Mrs. McAffee, Alli Pierson of Hampton and Megan Johnson of West Milford as Kim and Alex Gelpke from Randolph as Randolph Mcaffee.

The cast is rounded out by dozens of supporting cast members from all over the region.

A beloved play Originally titled "Let's Go Steady," the satire on American society is 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 a rival of Elvis in the 1950s.

The story takes place over a few days when agent and songwriter Albert Peterson finds himself in trouble when hip-thrusting rock and roll superstar Conrad Birdie is drafted into the army. Albert's Hispanic secretary and sweetheart Rosie Alvarez comes up with a last-ditch publicity stunt to have Conrad Birdie record and premiere a song before he is sent overseas. They plan to have Birdie sing Albert's new song "One Last Kiss" and give one lucky girl from his fan club a real "last kiss" on The Ed Sullivan Show before going into the army.

The lucky girl chosen randomly from Conrad's fan club is 15-year-old Kim MacAfee from Sweet Apple, Ohio. All the teenagers in Sweet Apple are catching up on the latest gossip about Kim MacAfee and Hugo Peabody going steady ("The Telephone Hour"). Conrad, Albert and Rosie set off to Sweet Apple to prepare for the event. Conrad wows the townsfolk with his hip gyrating ("Honestly Sincere"), the girls scream and even the women swoon.

From this point on the show is packed with production numbers such as “Kids” and ”Gotta Lot of Livin to Do” and the ballad “Talk to Me" and much more, including the comical Shriner’s ballet dance.