Scotch College has once again proved that their drama department is capable of presenting a show that is worthy of any accolades it may get. The musical Bye Bye Birdie gives the opportunity to present most facets of a theatre production with acting, singing, backstage work and their accomplished orchestra. Liz Young conducted the Charles Strousse score with eighteen musicians who provided onstage background which included entertainment during set changes. The play is set in the early sixties and includes many well known songs from that era.
The opening sees Birdie’s manager, Albert Peterson played by Sebastian Crisafi talking excitedly on the phone as he learns that Birdie is to be drafted. Crisafi is made for this role with his inflections of excitement, enthusiasm, sadness and also his singing ability. His secretary and love interest Rose Alvarez portrayed brilliantly by Olivia Sutton sweeps onto the stage with a letter of resignation. The interaction of their on again off again relationship is carried on masterfully throughout the entire play. Her song and dance in Maude’s Roadside Retreat is memorable.
The MacAfee family has been selected to have Birdie stay with them just prior to him being drafted. The father Harry played by Harry Ince is unforgettable with his fatherly antics and outrage to many situations that arise. Jasmyn Setchell portrays the unflappable mother Doris who stands beside her husband in a calming manner while also trying to be a good mother to her fifteen year old daughter and a young son. Sophie Laycock takes on the role of the daughter Kim. Her actions and love affair come under pressure when Birdie comes to town. Her presentation as an older girl is a feature that sees Birdie becoming amorous.
The role of Conrad Birdie is well executed by Nicholas Peterson. It would have been easy to overplay this role but Petersen shows off his moves and singing with aplomb that has cast swooning and makes his role believable.
There are many fine performances in the very large cast including Mia Nicholls as Mrs Petersen, memorable for her head in the oven and lying on the railway line. Tim Whalan as Hugo was great with his interpretation of an inebriated lost lover.
The ensemble cast of around sixty included the dancers, chorus and cameo roles. The singing by the chorus led the audience to a wave of appreciation. The dancing by choreographer Nina Richards was quite amazing with so many of the cast on stage at one time and all in sync. The specific dance troupe added to the performances and the cameo of Cas Conquergood as Gloria Rasputin with her tap and splits was remarkable.
The costume design by Carolyn Bosko & Kathy Laycock were true to the time line with colourful and glittering (Birdie’s costume) inventiveness. The sound and set design by Craig Williams smoothly fitted in with the on stage orchestra. The sets were relatively simple but the many changes were carried out by the backstage crew with alacrity and allowed stage entrances to be made from different heights. Lighting and the projections onto the back of the stage added significantly to the production.
The entire show was brought to fruition by the talents of the Director David Gauci. If there were any problems during the performance none were noticeable.
As a footnote Scotch College have just appointed a new head of drama, Bauke Snyman. We wish him well. His job will certainly be made easier with the exceptional talent he has to work with.