Pink, yellow, orange, lime green, blue, you would think I was describing “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” but not yet. That’s up next at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre! These colors were displayed on the set of “Bye Bye Birdie” as well as the actor’s clothing. Bright and flashy colors grab the attention of the eager audience. The show takes place in Sweet Apple, Ohio and New York City in 1961. Conrad Birdie, a rock-n-roll singer (inspired by Elvis), is about to be sent off to the army. His agent, Albert and Albert’s secretary, Rose, have an idea to have Conrad pick a girl from his fan club to plant “one last kiss” on. Kim MacAfee of Sweet Apple, Ohio is the chosen one.
“Bye Bye Birdie” won the Tony Award in 1961 for Best Musical. In 1963 it was made into a movie and to this day many theater companies around the world mount the production. In fact, when I was in middle school, I was in a children’s theater group and played one of Kim’s friends. It’s a great family friendly show that attracts adults and kids alike with its hummable tunes and fun lyrics.
Although the show is easy to follow, it is complex in characters. There are many different stories taking place all within the plot of Conrad on his way to war. Albert, played Michael Gruber and Rose, played by Ann Michels are co-workers and also in love. Albert has been dragging his feet on settling down and Rose is at her wits end. To make matters worse, Albert has a clingy mother. Ann Michels (Rose) is truly talented. Her vocal ability is top notch not to mention her dancing! Seri Johnson, who plays Albert’s mother, is a hoot! Her lines crack up the audience who clearly enjoyed the role.
Kim MacAfee is in a tough spot. She is the President of the Conrad Birdie fan club and is chosen to be the recipient of the kiss. However, she has a new “steady”, Hugo Peabody. Jessica Fredrickson does a lovely job playing the innocent and sweet Kim. Frank Moran (Conrad) made the audience laugh too many times to count with his dance moves and Elvis like impersonations. Tyler Michaels was a good Hugo and matched Jessica well. We also meet Kim’s parents and brother. Her father, Harry MacAfee played by Keith Rice was one of my favorites. He was comical and witty. I loved his gestures and facial expressions.
The ensemble did a great job tying the show together. Each person played a vital role since it was a small but impactful group. To me, Caroline Innerbichler stood out. She made great acting choices. My three favorite songs were “The Telephone Hour”, “Sincere”, and “T.V. Theme Fanfare.” “The Telephone Hour” was choreographed very well. The cast moved the set around and seemed to have a good time. It was highly entertaining. “Sincere” was a company number and one of those big traditional musical songs. Everyone is singing, dancing, and having a good time. Plus, the audience obviously enjoyed Conrad Birdie and how the girls were fawning over him, including the Mayor’s wife! “T.V. Theme Fanfare” is an out of the blue choice yet I loved it because of the harmonies. It has never been a song that stuck out to me before but it did this time because it was done so well.
“Bye Bye Birdie” is a show that audiences of all ages can enjoy. So bring your kids, neighbors, grandparents, siblings, spouses, and anyone else you can find and head to Chanhassen Dinner Theatre! The show runs from now through March. For further details take a look at:
Chanhassen Dinner Theatre