Bye Bye Birdie a Hit

April 08, 2014

By Melissa McCutchan

CIU Student Writer

Columbia International University students took a trip back to the year 1958 as the CIU Players presented the lighthearted 1960 Broadway musical “Bye Bye Birdie.”

“Bye Bye Birdie” tells the story of struggling music agent Albert Peterson (Chris Kyles).  When the United States Army drafts his prominent client, rock-and-roll singer and teenage heartthrob Conrad Birdie (William Bitterman), Peterson becomes desperate for a last publicity stunt to save his career.

His sweetheart and secretary, Rosie Alvarez (Emily Calder), comes up with the master plan that will save Birdie’s career - and, she hopes, will convince Peterson to leave the music business.  Birdie and his two agents travel to Sweet Apple, Ohio, where he will perform his new song, “One Last Kiss,” and give his last kiss to one lucky fangirl—15-year-old Kim MacAfee (Courtney Reasoner). 

However, as romantic interests become entangled, the publicity stunt turns into a disaster that threatens to turn Sweet Apple upside down.

While the plot of “Bye Bye Birdie” is amusingly chaotic, the CIU Players also faced some chaos as they prepared for the show.  They had only six weeks to build sets, find costumes, and learn lines and music.

“The cast put in 10-12 hours per week of singing, acting and dancing,” director and senior Patti Donovan said.  “I couldn't have asked for a more committed cast.”

It’s safe to say that the cast enjoyed their time on stage.  From overprotective father Harry MacAfee (Jeremy Reasoner) to glamorous showgirl Gloria Rasputin (Christine Benz), the CIU Players embraced their roles in a way that was both humorous and convincing.

“I enjoyed playing Rosie because she is strong, confident, and determined,” Calder said.  “It was fun to play her because she went through so many different emotions: anxiety, anger, happiness, love.”

The audience was laughing with every complicated love interest and awkward interaction. 

“They did a really good job,” sophomore Katie Baum said.  “It was funny because it was like a lot of middle school and high school drama.”

The fun of the musical lives on as students can still be heard around campus humming the show’s catchy tunes such as “Put on a Happy Face.”   

“The show was so much fun,” Calder said. “I hope CIU enjoyed seeing it as much as we enjoyed putting it on!”