Bye Bye Birdie cast and crew have a lot to say

Lisa Grant

Special to the Record

Rainbow Youth Theatre presents the classic musical Bye Bye Birdie this week.

With producer Teresa Coates at the helm; director and choreographer Brian Kruse and music director Joey Clarkson weaving their creative magic, and the support of a great production team, the young teenaged cast of 24 and crew have a lot to say.

Deirdre Cameron-McKenna and Jayden White arrived straight from CYMC’s Thoroughly Modern Millie to help stage manager Matt Ehrler and the others backstage. Cameron-McKenna likes “to help out,” and “likes being involved as much as possible,” and, since she can’t be in the show, this is “the next best thing...Theatre gives you the opportunity for escaping into another world, and allows you to be anyone. It is also a great way of learning music, a good way to make friends, and is fun to do!”

Sienna Orbelle (Rosie Alvarez, Cast A), Michaela Demeo (Rosie Alvarez, Cast B), Chai Sullivan (Helen), and Hayden Ledingham (Harvey Johnson), describe their passion for theatre.

Orbelle likes making friends; Demeo says people “are not judged and are accepted as they are;” Sullivan “likes to be around people who like doing the same thing;” and Ledingham adds “the people involved never feel ashamed about being who they are, “which might be weird or crazy at times.”

New friends made

Other RYT veterans Evelyn McIntosh (the Mayor’s wife), MacKye White (Randolph MacAfee), and Monique Collins (Alice) all speak fondly of theatre. McIntosh says this show has been a great experience, because “I’ve met a lot of new people and we have been learning so much, moving forward together as fun and happy people making other people laugh.” White likes meeting new friends, and Collins likes theatre “because you can be someone else.”

New to the Valley in late June, Matt (Freddie) and Rebecca Curtis (Penelope Ann Henkel) explain how theatre has helped them to adjust.

Rebecca enjoys the challenging dancing in the show, and Matt, renowned for his supply of “fishy crackers,” likes that theatre always provides a “wacky bunch” of friends. White specifies that “it’s the good kind of wacky.”

New to theatre is Kennedy Daniels (Mrs. Mae Peterson) who says she had been “a bit of a loner;” now, she has “made a whole bunch of friends and I am not alone anymore.”

Orbelle laughs that her skirt once fell down on stage after a quick-change.

Ledingham once tripped on his feet, another time recited “random syllables,” and during a fight scene in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, accidently punched fellow actor Kyle Fukui (Conrad Birdie) in the face.

Sullivan remembers her voice once cracking, but the audience of young actors “had been there before.”

Ledingham needs to make his voice crack, noting wistfully that “the last time my voice will crack will be very sad.”

All recall the pain of the closing night of any show. Sullivan says you realize, “I’m never going to be this person again,” and feel sad to perform that last time.

Play inspired by Elvis

As if to push aside all thoughts of the sadness of closing nights, the conversation turns to the appeal of Bye Bye Birdie, which was inspired by Elvis Presley’s draft.

Sullivan thinks it is “neat to go back in time,” and Demeo likes how it takes place in “a different time, in the 1950s.” Cast members enthuse that the show “will be great,” “it is funny,” “there are big dance numbers,” that “Joey is doing a great job as Music Director” and that “Brian knows how to put together a great show!” Come to remember or to imagine a different time, to support local theatre and local youth, but mostly come to escape and to be thoroughly entertained.

Tickets and Performances are at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School on Lerwick in Courtenay.

The show runs at 7 p.m. from Thursday, July 31 to Sunday,  Aug. 3  and  at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2.

Tickets  are $15, and are for sale from 12-4 daily, and one hour prior to show times. Advance tickets are available at Laughing Oyster Bookstore in Courtenay (on 5th Street) and at Red Carpet Consignment Boutique in Comox (at the corner of Comox Ave. and Anderton).


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