Ike says hello to ‘Bye Bye Birdie’

By: Eric Czarnik, | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 15, 2017

Eisenhower High School is ready to greet the second half of its school year with a kiss by staging the classic musical “Bye Bye Birdie.”

According to Eisenhower theater director David Springer, the school decided last spring to stage the musical after performing “The Little Mermaid” in spring 2016. He called “Bye Bye Birdie” an “old-school show” and said it would be a good experience for kids to perform it after recently having done more current productions.

“Birdie” originally debuted on Broadway in 1960 and won four Tony Awards the following year, including for best musical.

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“It was the very first musical I was in back in high school,” Springer said, adding that he played the lead male role of rock star Conrad Birdie.

Springer explained that the plot is about a publicity stunt involving Birdie giving a goodbye kiss to a fan on national TV before heading off to military service. The fan turns out to be Kim MacAfee, from Sweet Apple, Ohio, who already has a boyfriend. A series of comic mishaps arises when Birdie and his entourage arrive to the town.

“It’s very much like the story that happened to Elvis Presley, how when he was in the height of his career, he was drafted to go into the Army,” Springer said.

Springer said the show is set in 1958 amid the era of poodle skirts, and he called the show’s musical score an eclectic mix of 1950s rock ’n’ roll and more popular tunes, like “Put on a Happy Face.”

Springer said the Eisenhower production’s cast contains around 60 people, plus another 50-60 students working behind the scenes.

Eisenhower junior Alyssa Yankee, 16, said she is playing the female lead role of Kim MacAfee.

“It’s really exciting because this is my first lead role ever in a musical, so it’s a real fun character because it’s pretty over the top and fun and girly,” she said.

Yankee said the audience will enjoy “Birdie” because it’s family-friendly and has funny characters.

“They’ll like all the fun colors and all the music — the music is really fun and upbeat,” she added.

Eisenhower High School’s performing arts department will present “Bye Bye Birdie” at 7 p.m. March 3 and 4, and at 2 p.m. March 4 and 5. Eisenhower is located at 6500 25 Mile Road in Shelby Township.

Admission costs $12 for adults, and $10 for seniors and students. Tickets are available at www.showtix4u.com or, while available, at the door.

Learn more by visiting eisenhower.uticak12.org or by calling (586) 797-1300.