note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey
There are many reasons to see The North Shore Music Theatre’s spirited BYE BYE BIRDIE (playing through Aug. 3rd) but the choreography and Bianca Marroquin’s vibrant performance are what make this BIRDIE soar. If you know BIRDIE from the Ann-Margaret film, you didn’t see much of Rose but the stage version, and especially Michael Lichtefeld’s staging of the North Shore production, highlight Rose’s story—and it packs a serious punch, in the middle of the joyous mayhem, by addressing racial stereotyping.
Rose has been engaged, for eight long years, to a small time record producer (James Patterson) whose mother (Mary-Pat Green) tries to run his life. When Conrad Birdie (Eric Ulloa) is drafted ---just like Elvis was---it’s Rose’s clever idea to turn his last day as a civilian into a public relations bonanza. They all set off for Ohio to meet Birdie’s fan club. Lichtefeld’s choreography for the teens is hip, retro and delightful. He mixes Fosse’s snappy mechanical thrusts with Jerome Robbin’s balletic reaches and ties it up with sensational bebop. The result is perfection.
Marroquin’s solos are breathtaking, letting her emotions speak through her dancing and her “Spanish Rose” number makes the show. Kudos, too, to Howard C. Jones for a fabulous fifties set, which sets the dancers on an L.P. which can spin like a turntable---and to Bob Saoud as the flustered father (Kids…What’s the Matter With Kids Today!) of the sixteen year old (Alessa Neeck) chosen to give Birdie his “last kiss.” From start to lively finish, the North Shore production sparkles.