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In 'Birdie,' NCHS teens act naturally


HAMPSTEAD -- Amid the screams of teen-age girls, rock star Conrad Birdie will bestow "one last kiss" upon a lucky lady this weekend and leave for the Army.

But not without the tribulations of frustrated love, plans and dreams in Michael Stewart's "Bye Bye Birdie," North Carroll High School's spring production.

Set in the '50s, the play follows Conrad (played by Richard Collins) and his manager Albert Peterson (Kyle Herb) as they prepare for the star's final show before answering the draft.

With the help of Albert's secretary/girlfriend Rose Alvarez (Kristen Bolster), they choose a girl from the national Conrad Birdie Fan Club to receive the lucky kiss and a song on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

But the publicity stunt aimed at making Albert rich enough to retire from show biz, marry his love and become an English teacher is hindered at every turn by a domineering mother, a jealous boyfriend, angry parents and Rose's frustration with Albert's ambivalence.

"It's a very good show for teen-agers," said director Roberta Rooney, an English teacher at the school. "It has rock 'n' roll music, so they love that, and it's about teen-agers, so they get to act like themselves."

Collins agrees.

"It's kind of like what we do now with rock star worship," the North Carroll sophomore said. "We run around trying to see this guy who's not all that special anyway."

The show is big: The 41-member cast includes mobs of teen-agers, parents and townspeople.

"It's a company show, so instead of three or four important roles, everyone has lots and lots to do," Rooney said.

Bolster, a North Carroll junior who has appeared in three other school productions, said she likes this character best because she understands how Rosie feels about Albert. But Rosie is more daring than the girl who portrays her.

"[Rosie] is a woman who is hopelessly in love with a man who won't commit," Bolster said. "I've been in her situation -- really in love with someone, but really frustrated.

"But she's more gutsy than I am, so I get to be someone that I'm not normally like."

Herb, on the other hand, said he appreciates the subtle humor in his character.

"My role is interesting; new things pop up all the time," the North Carroll junior said. "I don't catch the humor of some of the lines until I really look at them."

For example, Albert continues to say "I and me" instead of "you and I" when he's trying to convince Rosie that he loves her.

"He just can't get everything out he wants to say," Herb said.

And the camaraderie of the cast makes the show very enjoyable, the performers said.

"I love it, it's so much fun," Bolster said. "It's a really cute, hokey play and fun to do."

The show opens at 8 p.m. tomorrow and runs through Saturday. Tickets are $3 and are available in advance from 11 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. each day in the school lobby, or at the door.

Information: 374-6105.

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