CTA flies high with 'Bye Bye Birdie'

If Tuesday's first dress rehearsal was any indication, the Children's Theatre of Annapolis production of Bye Bye Birdie is going to pack an energetic wallop.

Naturally exuberant, the well-primed group of 20 young performers was coaxed to higher levels by music director Kevin Kimble and never missed a step of the intricate dance routines.


"The 38-member cast has worked incredibly hard, and you can feel the excitement from them and the crew at every rehearsal," producer Deb Engler said. "They are so supportive of each other."

The troupe is known for its professionalism and joyous performances, but Children's Theatre owes much of its success to the strong support from parent volunteers.


Its work was evident in the high-quality architectural elements such as the simulated stonework of the set evoking the 1960s at Anne Arundel Community College's Pascal Center for the Performing Arts.

A few adults crouched behind the rehearsing dance line to finish assembling the set. Other members of the artistic staff and parent volunteers projected a positive attitude - even if they felt a little old.

During a rehearsal of the number "The Telephone Hour," volunteers had to instruct the children, ages 12 to 18, on how to use a rotary phone.

"The phone has to be on your ear. There were no speaker phones back then," one volunteer explained.

Volunteers previously had to search for an assortment of rotary dial phones that were later spray-painted in coordinated colors to make this number authentic.

Kimble said he has enjoyed seeing the interaction between the children and their families involved in the production, calling CTA "a nurturing environment where cast members can learn about themselves and study the craft of theater performance."

Making its debut in 1960, Bye Bye Birdie, by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, tells the story of rock star Conrad Birdie, who has been drafted into the Army. His manager, Albert Peterson, dreams up a scheme to have Conrad kiss a fan goodbye on television to promote a recording of Albert's new song, "One Last Kiss."

Fourteen-year-old Kim MacAfee is the girl chosen, upsetting her boyfriend, Hugo, and Albert's wife, Rose. Along the way are classic toe-tapping tunes such as "Kids" and "Put on a Happy Face."


Heading CTA's cast are Severna Park High School junior Brittany Kemmer as Kim, Annapolis High School senior Ned Kimble as Conrad, Broadneck High School senior Joshua Konick as Albert and Baltimore School of the Arts senior Loghan Bazan as Rosie, with Broadneck sophomore Adam Timko playing Hugo.

"This cast has been a wonder to experience. I truly believe that every one of them has grown in talent, experience and knowledge through this whole process," choreographer Jason Kimmell said. "The audiences are in for a real treat when these kids take over the stage for this production."

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. today and Jan. 12, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and Jan. 13, and at 2 p.m. Sunday and Jan. 14. Tickets cost $12 general admission and $10 for seniors and children 12 and younger, and may be ordered by calling 410-757-2281 and leaving a message, or at the box office.