Menlo School Drama

Rounding out Menlo School’s 2018-19 drama season, ByeBye Birdie serves up musical standards, big colorful dance numbers and a heaping dose of nostalgia. Enjoy an outdoor performance beginning Friday, May 3, through Sunday, May 5, and Friday, May 10, and Saturday, May 11, at 8:00 pm.

The year is 1958, and songwriter Albert Peterson finds himself in trouble when his teen heartthrob client Conrad Birdie is drafted into the army, leaving his indebted record label in jeopardy. Enter Albert’s secretary and longtime girlfriend, Rosie, who devises a plan to have Birdie perform a new hit song live on television while planting “one last kiss” on a deserving teen superfan.

The publicity stunt inevitably goes awry when hip-thrusting rock-n-roll collides with small town values, upending a town full of starstruck teens and their parents who just don’t understand “kids these days.” With romantic comedy at its center, an infusion of teen angst and a hint of burgeoning feminism, the 1960s musical continues to delight with its tuneful score, relatable themes and plenty of mischief.

Senior Luke Arnold, who plays teen idol Conrad Birdie, explains, “One of the central themes of the show is the disconnect between parents and kids, a fairly universal experience. Every kid has at some point wanted to storm off and forge his or her own path, and every parent has been left feeling the shock and disbelief of that idea.”

Playing the part of Rosie Alvarez, senior Jordan Gold feels “lucky to be part of a community that values the arts so much [and] is impressed by the unique perspective and energy that every cast member brings to the story.”

Director of Creative Arts and Upper School Drama Steven Minning chose Birdie as the perfect season-ender, the “1961 Best Musical that captured a phenomenon that shook American pop culture of the day — Elvis Presley being drafted.” According to Minning, “Birdie brings us back to a more innocent time . . . where a song like ‘Put on a Happy Face’ is guaranteed to leave us with a lighter heart and a hummable tune.”

Continuing the tradition of philanthropy Minning began six years ago through Menlo Drama Gives Back, this production of Bye Bye Birdie will benefit KIND (Kids in Need of Defense) a national nonprofit that works to provide high quality legal representation to unaccompanied minor immigrant and refugee children.

The entire community is welcome to this production, which appropriate for all ages. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students, available for advance purchase at Tickets are also available at the box office one hour before each performance. Gates open at 6:00 p.m. for lawn and traditional seating. Picnic blankets, picnic dinners and low profile lawn chairs welcome! Menlo School is located at 50 Valparaiso Avenue, Atherton.

Luke Arnold as Conrad Birdie; Photo by Clara Guthrie

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