Whimsicality's 'Bye Bye Birdie' - My Review

My third review of 'Bye Bye Birdie'

Whimsicality is a children's theater that was founded in 2007 by Devin Brown and Lisa A. Hamel. Ms. Hamel tells how eight years ago these two high school girls performed what would become one of their favorite musicals on the old Watertown High School stage. For Whimsicality's sixth successful season they chose to bring back that favorite musical Bye Bye Birdie with the help of a whole company of "Whimsy Kids who believe in the power of a little 'Whimsy magic.'"

Ms. Brown, the director of this production, had six weeks to make this vision a reality. The cast contains many veterans of multiple Whimsy shows but also a "whole bunch" of first time performers and musicians that on opening night "will get why we have to rehearse for hours." She should be proud of a job well done; kudos also to the Musical Director Lianna Squillace and Producer Denise Brown. The latter's notes in the program were supportive and honest as she described how the show fell into place.

The mostly teenaged performers in this very large cast worked together to pull off an enjoyable production. One would never know that this was the first full-length two act musical play ever attempted by this company. The wonderful costumes (done by committee) and authentic scenery and props brought the audience back to the fifties. When was the last time you saw an avocado green oven? The overture features four "Overture Girls" stacking their heads to sing through the opening in the curtains.

Everyone is this wonderful cast should be proud of themselves. How great it was to see so many boys in the teen chorus to balance the number of screaming girls. The players all seemed so comfortable on the stage and the hours of summer vacation that they had dedicated to rehearsal definitely showed. Ms. Hamel did an amazing job on the choreography and the dancers all rose to the challenge. The "Shriner's Ballet" was intricate and very funny and the featured dancers rocked in "Put On a Happy Face."

As "Albert Peterson," Chris Varanko is a fine actor and dancer. Teddy Rogozinski is a suave and convincing "Conrad Birdie." Naugatuck's Savannah Spraugue is an adorable "Kim MacAfee" and a fine actress. Playing the adult roles, Adrianna Varanko does a great job as "Kim's" mother "Doris" and Connor Dunn is excellent as her dad "Harry." Young Nate Davino (a vet) nailed the role of younger brother "Randolph." Cutie Kasey Ingerson danced just as well as any teen on the stage.

One standout in the cast for me is the lovely Jen Bavone who plays the lead role of "Rose Alvarez." This young lady can do it all and was so poised onstage; she is an actress to watch. Then there is the young man who bravely took on the role of "Albert's" annoyingly smothering mother "Mae Peterson." Armed with a fur coat, curly gray wig, heels and a big purse, Zach Carter () is absolutely hysterical in the part. To me, he is the best "Mother Doesn't Matter" ever. Zach also does a super job as a boy in the teen chorus, thanks to quick costume changes, and he sings really well in the "Baby, Talk to Me" number. I never tire of seeing this talented young man in whatever he does.

I must end with a few words about the musicians in the pit, well actually more than a few. Most of the musical numbers are performed with taped accompaniment, but the musicians in "One Last Pit" covered five of the songs that featured a lot of dialogue and the music between scenes. Christine Manalo (Footloose) plays keyboard, Thomas Clark covers guitar, trumpet and train whistle, and CJ Janis rocked the drums in his first appearance in a pit. Perhaps only his mother noticed when CJ took a long drink from his water bottle while Zach held out one particular note, but it is a nice comic touch.

. Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased at the door. Go see it and catch the Whimsy spirit with Bye Bye Birdie.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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