By Sue Moore
A lot of youngsters – what seems like hundreds of fourth to eighth graders but really isn’t that many – are practicing their musical and acting chops to perform Bye Bye Birdie on the big folks’ stage at the Performing Arts Center at Vicksburg High School.
They’re learning to sing and dance to a 1960s musical that draws ever so slightly on the early history of Elvis Presley. It will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, October 27 and 28 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, October 29.
This show played Broadway for many years and has been especially tailored for elementary and middle school students to strut their stuff. A young rock and roll teen heartthrob named Conrad Birdie is played by Kenny Dark, a Vicksburg eighth grader. He has been drafted into the Army (sound familiar?) and his agent is trying his best to keep his client’s name in the headlines before the fickle public can forget and move on to another musician.
It seems that Birdie is to publicly plant a kiss on a teenager from Sweet Apple, Ohio, played by seventh-grader Molly Young. Other leading actors and singers include Caleb Johnson as Albert the agent, Lily Puckett as Rosie and Olivia Cannizzaro as Mrs. MacAfee. Supporting this accomplished cast are students from Dustin Morris’ vocal music classes in Vicksburg’s three elementary schools and middle school. He is the musical director of the play that features such well-known songs as “Put on a Happy Face” and “A Lot of Livin’ To Do.” The musical is directed by Melissa Sparks, Vicksburg’s well-known director of all things on stage.
It features a tuneful high-energy score and a hilarious script and continues to thrill audiences around the world, according to its publicity agent. Tickets are available online at vicksburg-community-schools.org/pac and at the ticket window before the performance.