An Exuberant Bye Bye Birdie at Theatre 360

Theatre Review

Photo credit: Heather Fipps: Chris Bensinger as Conrad Birdie and The Cast of Bye Bye Birdie Have Got A Lot of Livin' To Do!

Theatre 360 does it again, with a kicky, wildly entertaining, summer production of Bye Bye Birdie. The story takes place in the small American town of Sweet Apple, Ohio in the early 60’s where teen heartthrob, Conrad Birdie, will give one lucky local teenage girl his last kiss before being inducted into the army. It’s a publicity stunt dreamed up by the secretary and long suffering love of Birdie’s agent, Albert Peterson, as a final money maker to allow Peterson to pay his debts, leave show business and marry said secretary. Hilarity ensues as the city folk descend on the small town, stirring up trouble, excitement and a lot of dancing!

Photo credit: Heather Fipps: Annie Tighe as Kim MacAfee and Chris Bensinger as Conrad Birdie in Theatre 360’s production of Bye Bye Birdie

Devon Yates’ direction keeps things moving at a brisk pace and makes the most of everyone’s talent while her choreography here is super groovy and so much fun. A marvelous example is the Birdie song, A Lot of Livin’ To Do, which here has become a raucous, hipster number where the ensemble really gets to show off their dancing skills. It’s a blast and highlight for the audience.

Photo credit: Heather Fipps: Ryan Liddy, Andrew Byer and Olivia Heder play the Sweet Apple, Ohio family, The MacAfees in Theatre 360’s Bye Bye Birdie

Anders Keith leads the company as Albert Peterson and is nothing short of dazzling. Keith has charisma for days as he charms you with Put on A Happy Face and then breaks your heart as he pleads with his girl in Baby, Talk To Me. Rinn Maldonado is the best Rose Alvarez in recent memory as she triple threats her way through all of the great Rose numbers culminating in a knockout performance of Spanish Rose. Longtime Theatre 360 member, Sage Saling, is clearly having a ball and is hysterical as Albert’s (martyr doesn’t begin to describe her!) mother and Annie Tighe is pitch perfect as the lucky Sweet Apple teen, Kim MacAfee.

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Chris Bensinger gives just the right amount of swagger and rock and roll sneer to Conrad Birdie and Andrew Byer has a solid comic turn as Mr. MacAfee. Olivia Heder has a beautiful voice and is a sweet Mrs. MacAfee and Ryan Liddy is adorable as Kim’s little brother, Randolph. The entire cast gives a sparkling performance, many playing multiple roles as the mayor, Shriners, reporters, and Sweet Apple parents and teenagers. The cast includes Bella Bilandzija, Paige Flores, Ava Gray, Shoka Kawashima, Avery King, Arjun Lakshman, Madeline McFadden, Candace Moore, Ellis Moss-Wharton, Ezra Muthiah, Ella Onderdonk, Caroline Patterson, Grace Patterson, Julio Cruz, Regan Sakai, and Mary Louisa Whitford.

Photo credit: Heather Fipps: Rinn Maldonado as Rose Alvarez with the Shriners in Bye Bye Birdie

The score is chock-full of fantastic, familiar, toe-tappin’ good tunes that will definitely have you singing a happy tune as you exit the theatre this weekend. Three more chances to see it, so get your tickets, Daddy-O!

Bye Bye Birdie runs through July 23 at Theatre 360, 75 North Marengo Avenue in Pasadena. Performances Fridays & Saturday at 7:30 p.m., & Sunday at 2:00 p.m.  Tickets are $16.00 and available through online purchase at http://www.brownpapertickets.com. For questions, please call the Theatre 360 office at (626) 577-5922.

Photo credit: Heather Fipps: Anders Keith as Albert Peterson and Rinn Maldonado as Rose Alvarez in Bye Bye Birdie at Theatre 360.
VIAAlisa Hayashida
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25 year South Pasadenan resident, Alisa Hayashida, hails from Hawaii by way of Los Angeles and San Diego. She studied theatre arts at University of California, Irvine and spent many years acting, directing and teaching in Paris, France working at Le Petit Atelier, Studio VO/VF, Galerie 55, as well as private coaching. Her career in performance and production took her all over Europe, New York, India and Los Angeles. Alisa has been an arts advocate for most of her life and is passionate about her community. She has been covering arts and culture in the San Gabriel Valley for the past six years and lives with her husband and son in South Pasadena.

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