High school kids hit the Broadway big time 

What: Bye Bye Birdie

Who: Whistler Secondary students

Where: MY Place

When: Thursday and Saturday, May 8 and 10.

Isn’t it every teenage girl's dream to meet their favorite pop star? That's what the creators of the 1960 musical Bye Bye Birdie and the cast at Whistler Secondary school would have you think with their take on the smash-hit ’50s musical satire about an Elvis-like rock star who gets drafted.

Bye Bye Birdie is one of the first productions of its kind for the school and one the cast has been rehearsing for twice a week since January. The story follows what happens when a young New York talent agent, Albert Peterson, finds out that his hottest client, rock-star Conrad Birdie, has been drafted into the army. When Albert’s longtime secretary and love interest, Rose, cooks up a money-making scheme to have the heart-throb Birdie give "one last kiss" to a dedicated fan, the action moves to Sweet Apple, Ohio, for a view of small town life in the ’50s.

For the Whistler production, expect the big Broadway style song and dance numbers, brightly coloured hand-painted sets and kitsch costumes on a cast of 40 students from Grades 7 to 12. Consulting director Heather Macpherson described the students’ performance as "a lot larger than life," packed with youthful enthusiasm, showmanship and plenty of surprises.

"I think some parents are going to be blown away with what their child can do," she said.

Student director and choreographer Lauren Collins agreed.

"A lot of the kids have grown up being interested in the arts because Whistler’s that kind of place, but then again there are some stars in the show who completely shocked us with their secret talents that I don’t think even they themselves realized they had."

The music for Bye Bye Birdie is typical late ’50s, early ’60s melody-based tunes featuring a romantic number and several swing and jitterbug songs. There are some very funny songs and some that parody the Elvis rock ’n’ roll style. For a generation that’s been raised on punk rock, grunge and hip-hop, mastering these old styles must have been quite a challenge.

"It’s pretty amazing to see it come together and everyone’s totally into it, which is great considering a lot of the cast are studying for their final exams," said Collins.

Bye Bye Birdie will run for three shows only. Thursday night, May 8 will be primarily for family and friends of the cast, while Saturday, May 10 will feature a special matinee performance at 2 p.m. as well as the regular show at 7 p.m. The audience is encouraged to dress up and admission is by donation. Call 604-935-8418.

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