A New Musical Flies to West: “Bye Bye, Birdie” coming soon


Emma Romello

Nick Peterson-Paugh (left) and Laurel Chiesa (right) dance on stage in musical rehearsal.

Madds Whisenant, News Editor

The Drama Department is soaring to new heights with the upcoming musical, “Bye Bye, Birdie,” starring senior Nick Peterson-Paugh as Albert Peterson and senior Laurel Chiesa as Rosie. “Bye Bye, Birdie” is centered around rockstar Conrad Birdie (senior Jonathan York), who is suddenly drafted into the military. Birdie’s fans do not want him to stop singing, especially Albert Peterson, his songwriter. Conrad had intentions of recording a song for him, so Albert’s girlfriend, Rosie, convinces her boyfriend to write a song that Birdie will sing to a fan selected in a contest. A young teenage girl, Kim McAfee (senior Danielle Sanders), wins the contest and has to deal with her jealous beau, Hugo Peabody (Chadwick Holmes), during the entire event.
Musical director Renae Hubbard has been waiting quite a while to perform “Bye Bye, Birdie” again since the start of her career, especially with it being the 20th musical she has directed and produced at West.
“It is the musical that I started my teaching career with, and I promised myself that if I made it to my 20th musical, I would do the same one as a celebration,” Hubbard said.
Similar to the fall play, “Vacancy in Paradise,” the spring musical takes place in an older setting, specifically in the 1950s. This musical is set during a time of youth culture and rock and roll, so the department had to get creative by making it into a performance to fill the entire auditorium, not just the stage.
“We are keeping it simple just because we have a lot of people that we have to put on stage, but we have the orchestra pit on stage, we’ve got very tall platforms in the back. We’re going out into the audience, we’re coming from the audience, so there’s some audience interaction too,” Hubbard said.
One of the most noticeable aspects of the set is the incredible amount of color, which makes it quite satisfying to the eye.
“Our set has multi-colors, so it has bright pops of color. We have records all over the place to symbolize the ‘50s. We are also making four foot platforms for the dancers to go on, and it has cool stairs leading up to it,” junior tech theatre student Chloe Wood said.
Just like any musical, there needs to be a passionate, hardworking cast. For “Bye Bye, Birdie,” the students have exceeded Hubbard’s expectations and have shined in this production, especially the seniors.
“[Bye Bye Birdie] has impacted me a lot. I’ve grown closer with a lot of the people in the cast, and it’s just been such a positive environment to escape from school with and everyone is just so nice,” Chiesa said.
With the enormous amount of talent that auditioned, Hubbard found it impossible to choose one person for each role but knew that the seniors deserved the spotlight.
“When we had auditions, I could have cast it about three or four different ways, and everybody had their talent, their merits. This one was chosen because of the seniors, giving the seniors the shot in the big leagues. All the seniors have dedicated a lot of time and effort into the department,” Hubbard said.
For many seniors, their experience with the production has been bittersweet as they spend their last moments under the spotlight at West.
“I’ve only done one previous production at West, which was Legally Blonde last year, and even though I’ve only been here for barely over a year, I still feel like I’m leaving something behind; it’s something that you can just join at any time and you will automatically feel like you belong,” York said.
Other seniors are more than ready to have a great performance, truly ‘leaving a legacy.’
“It’s making me upset that this is going to be my last show here, but it’s bittersweet, because I’m thinking it’s the culmination of all eight productions that I’ve done here, and I get to go out with a bang, and I get to hopefully do my best show that I’ve ever done here,” Paugh said.
Working with the cast has not only been a joy for the director, but also for the cast members who have had a great time practicing a fun musical and being able to learn from each other.
“As our main seniors and a lot of our big talents have dispersed and gone to college, we’re left with not too many people who can really fill in for massive roles anymore. My favorite thing though, is seeing new talents come forth,” Holmes said.
“Bye Bye Birdie” will be ‘rocking’ its way to West March 23-24 at 7 p.m. and March 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets will be $10 at the door. Don’t miss this special musical celebration.