‘Bye Bye Birdie’ opens tonight

The Magic City Playmakers and Thespian Troupe 791 will present “Bye Bye Birdie,” a musical comedy set in the late 1950s, at the Arvel Graving Theatre at Magic City Campus Nov. 14-16 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. Alphonse Koenigsman is directing his 10th show with choreographer Paula Simonson. They always produce exciting shows with colorful sets and fun dance numbers.

Alphonse has a history of designing elaborate sets with depth and structure. When asked what he enjoys most about being involved with the theater department at Minot High, he said, “Every year it is a new challenge, a new cast with new students, a new audience.” “The variables change. I have a new set to design. It all unfolds, often a scene at a time, until all the pieces fit together into this perfect show. Sometimes it is a bit chaotic. But I find energy in the theater with the kids. I love that energy. It gives me peace.”

Simonson creates original and creative interpretations for each song. Her work always highlights the extent of her love and devotion to the theater and to the kids.

“(I love) being part of creating a musical theatre experience,” Simonson said of her involvement with Minot High theater.

“It is very gratifying to have an appreciative audience, but the thrill for me has always been the impact it can have on the kids who take part. Those who participate remember their show experience for a lifetime. They stretch and grow in the most amazing ways. It’s very powerful.”

Lindsay Kerzmann is in her second year as the musical director, while Elizabeth Roberts has been the ever-dedicated rehearsal pianist.

Kaaren Stuck is making her debut as the costume designer. Leaving no detail to chance, she spent many hours researching the time period and created many of the costumes for the show by hand. They are authentic, hand-crafted and incredible. Stuck said she has enjoyed her debut year, especially with the extra time has gotten to spend with her senior daughter, Shelby Cross.

“I am treasuring every minute I can squeeze out of her,” Stuck said. “I am sure parents of all seniors can empathize. I am also enjoying time spent with the rest of the cast and crew. I am looking forward to enjoying the final result.”

Seniors were cast in the principal roles. Albert Peterson will be played by Elliot Flood, while Rose Alvarez will be played by Shelby Cross. Linnea Maxfield plays Mae Peterson, and Kim MacAfee will be played by Maddie Thompson. The roles of Mr. and Mrs. MacAfee will be played by juniors Nathan Bowles and Lindsey Bertsch.

The title character, Conrad Birdie, is played by junior Joby Walter.

The cast includes 30 other juniors and seniors from Magic City Campus, one student from Central Campus and two students from local elementary schools.

The day the cast list was posted was an exciting one. When Flood saw his name on the list as Albert he said, “I was happy and surprised. It felt good to be chosen for such a big role and to be trusted.” When Cross found out she had been cast as Rosie, she said “I was so excited, it was the part I wanted and to play opposite one of my good friends, it was a good day!” Thompson’s initial reaction to be being cast as Kim was, “Wow!” She was thrilled.

This is Walter’s first stage performance experience, but he is primed and ready to do some hip shaking and make all the chicks scream.

With all that goes on at once – from memorizing all the lines to costume changes to actions, to scene changes and complicated staging – a show can be challenging.

The principal characters all agreed that remembering everything is the most challenging aspect. Maxfield says what she finds most challenging is figuring out her character. “What the voice, actions and movements should be,” she said. “Every day I am trying to perfect it.”

This is a great show with so many great and memorable moments. When asked to pick their favorite scene. Flood and Cross ranked the final scene of the show as their favorite, where Albert sings a little love song to Rosie. It is an adorable scene that is sure to make you smile. Maxfield’s favorite scene is when she tries to introduce to Albert to a new “love interest” – Gloria Rasputin, played by Amanda Kraft. It is laugh-out-loud funny.

The show tells the story of an Elvis Presley-inspired rock star named Conrad Birdie who receives an Army draft notice, devastating his teenage fans across the nation. In a publicity stunt, a plan is devised for Conrad to bid a typical American teenage girl goodbye with an all-American kiss while he sings a new song.

Kim MacAfee, from Sweet Apple, Ohio, is the lucky little lady who wins the contest, but the arrival of Conrad Birdie in Sweet Apple causes people of all ages to go crazy and madness ensues.

To see if true love prevails, join us at Arvel Graving Theatre at Magic City Campus. Ticket prices are $ 8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for students 18 and under. An item in the Oct. 31 edition incorrectly stated senior tickets were $5.

The house opens 30 minutes prior to performance.

(Heidi Clouse is a public relations and production assistant with the Magic City Campus Theatre group.)