Oh those innocent — and oh so complicated ’60s. They’re so back, so silly and so fun with Howard Payne University’s production of “Bye Bye Birdie,” opening tonight on the HPU Theatre stage.
In case you’ve forgotten (and it has been a long, long time), “Bye Bye Birdie” is the story of a last kiss effort to capitalize (and get rich quick) on the teen-age idol and rock star Conrad Birdie’s fame. Birdie has been drafted into the Army, and his agent’s secretary comes up with the plan to stage a goodbye kiss with a member of his fan club, one Kim MacAfee from Sweet Apple, Iowa.
Of course sweet Miss MacAfee has teen-age issues of her own. Albert Peterson, the agent, has a meddling and obnoxious mother, and, it appears, a fear-of-the-altar issue with his long suffering secretary, who loves him dearly and of whom his mother strongly disapproves.
The zaniness of the era — and by the way, Birdie’s resemblance to Elvis Presley is hardly coincidental — is happily reprised in some great costuming, rollicking melodies and recall of such icons as Ed Sullivan and corded telephones.
Joe Shaw has the role of Albert Peterson, Denise Wathen is his long suffering secretary, Rose Alvarez. Danielle Cruise is the domineering Mrs. Mae Peterson. Sarah Schoel plays Kim MacAfee, the 15-year-old fan selected for the good-bye kiss, and Chris Rosborough plays the pouty, ego out-of-check, Conrad Birdie. But dozens of HPU students have parts in the chorus, MacAfee family and sundry characters, including Hannah Lee Carter as the squealing, swooning Conrad Birdie fan, Ursula Merkle. Hailey Ingle puts on quite a performance as the quietly fainting mayor’s wife.
Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the HPU Theatre. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for students. Call 649-8500 to make reservations.