Travel back to the ’50s

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By Kirsten Laskey

“I think I was born in the wrong era,” said Los Alamos High School student Chelsy Smith, who plays Gloria in the high school’s production of “Bye, Bye Birdie.” While returning to a time when poodle skirts were fashionable and the Ed Sullivan Show was the rage, Smith decided the ’50s suit her.

Hopefully after traveling back to this nostalgic time period, the musical’s audience will also embrace the ’50s.

The show appears to have all the ingredients to be a sweet success. “Bye, Bye Birdie” features singing, dancing, a live orchestra, creative sets and a strong cast.

Plus, “It’s one of the most fun musicals every written and it’s a perfect musical for teenagers,” director Holly Haas said.

She added, “I think we have a fabulous cast.”

The principal actors are Bethany Sullivan as Rosie and Craig Mortensen as Albert. Additionally, Anna Hodgson portrays Mae Peterson, Arica Baughman performs as Kim Macafee and Stuart Rupprecht is cast as Conrad Birdie.

In the play, manager Albert faces a predicament as his client, Conrad Birdie, gets drafted into the army. To save Albert’s career, his girlfriend and secretary Rosie comes up with a plan for Birdie to smooch one of his female fans on T.V.  

The synopsis may be sweet, but presenting a musical is no piece of cake.

Haas said there are many challenges in a musical. “You are dealing with dancing, singing, music and of course acting. It just requires a lot more scenery (and) costumes.”

Despite the pressure to pull everything off, the cast seems confidently relaxed.

Mortensen said he enjoys performing a comedic role as well as singing and dancing.

Ana Pabian, who is a member of the chorus, said the musical offers a chance for students in different grade levels to mingle. “It’s fun to bond,” she said.

Ashley Cordell, who plays the role of Karen, said the musical is a great learning experience. In addition to being on stage, she said, the production teaches how to deal with people and the art of putting a performance together.

This particular show, Cordell added, “is different from any other stage performance I’ve ever done.”

Colleen Fearey (Helen) said, “Even though late night rehearsals can get really stressful – it’s still a lot of fun.”

Shelby Stringer (Ursula) described the experience as “kind of like a family away from home.”

James Mosier (Harvey Johnson) commented, “It’s a great experience to be in a musical. It’s a completely different experience (from doing dramatic plays and it’s) really fun. Plus, he said he now knows how to sing.

This should be a special experience for the audience, too. A live orchestra, conducted by Gretchen Amstutz, will perform.

The orchestra is made up of adult and student musicians.

“And they’re good,” Haas said, “They are so good.”

Along with the music, Haas said she worked with the Theater Design class to create the sets for the show.

While Haas retired from teaching, she has been keeping busy with producing musicals in Dixon. She put on “The Fantastics” and “Spitfire Grill.”

Haas returned to the Olions Thespians Club to fill in for Sponsor Nina Saunders, who is on maternity leave.

“I love it,” she said about being back with the club.

The musical will open at 7 p.m. Friday and will continue to be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday as well as April 30 and May 1-2.

There will be a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday. All performances are at Duane Smith Auditorium. Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for seniors.