Bye Bye Birdie by Trinity Laban
Bye Bye Birdie was Trinity Laban’s second year show. I have never seen this musical before so I was keen to discover this along with the talent at Trinity Laban.
Bye Bye Birdie tells of teen heartthrob Conrad Birdie who has been drafted into the army. In order to give Birdie’s pop career one last big boost and his own song writing career Albert Peterson and his girlfriend Rosie come up with the idea that Birdie should give All American Kim MacAfee, one last kiss before he heads off to war.
Bye Bye Birdie is sickly sweet, stuffed full of the American Dream and putting on a happy face but Trinity Laban embraced this fact and pitched it perfectly. The saccharine sweetness of this show was acknowledged and enhanced. The dancers smiles were plastered perfectly across their faces and the screams upon the sight of Birdie were loud and occasionally so high that the windows rattled and this was exactly the approach this show needed!
It wasn’t just the understanding of how to interpret the high school 1950’s sweetness that Trinity Laban got spot on. There were quirky modern interpretations that worked well. For example Albert Peterson’s overbearing and disapproving mother, Mrs Mae Peterson was played by Daniel Kerr, glitter beard and all. He threatened to steal the show whenever he appeared. getting the balance of drag and being true to the original character just right.
The set was simple but effective with the design by Amy Yardley. A shimmering American flag flanking the back wall and a large star projected on to demonstrate where the action was taking place. There was also nice attention to detail throughout with signs being displayed by the cast. My only criticism was that sometimes the space felt too large as they not only used the stage area but also a sizeable portion of the floor in front of it. It meant that when the cast were performing at the back of the stage we lost some of their great expression and energy.
Yardley was also responsible for the costumes which firmly placed the show in the 1950’s before the cast even opened their mouths.
The cast were incredibly strong and I found it hard to believe that they were second year students. Mollie Angus took on the role of Rosie and I enjoyed her fiery performance, especially when faced with the mother in law to be. Ciaran McCormack was Conrad Birdie and he not only had the right rock and roll crooner tone to his voice but also the perfect amount of hip thrusting! I also adored Chloe Fry who played Ursula, Kim’s best friend and Birdie’s biggest fan. She had a huge amount of energy and really understood the comedy behind her role. I found myself constantly drawn to her character throughout.
Whilst I have picked out individuals from the cast one of the most impressive things about the show was the close vocal harmony work that they delivered as a company. The standard was high right from the opening number on this front and really ensured that the ensemble numbers packed a punch. This continued into the smaller numbers and Ella Gregory as Kim MacAfee, Chloe Ravenscroft as Margie, Hayley Huggett as Helen and Nancy Banks as Alice really impressed on this front in the One Boy quartet.
I went to watch Bye Bye Birdie not having a clue what to expect but I left grinning from ear to ear. Trinity Laban have pitched this show perfectly, understanding and then ramping up the comedy behind it, adding some modern touches and a cast that were a real joy to watch in all of the roles. I genuinely did ‘Put On A Happy Face,’ throughout this show.
To find out more about Trinity Laban then visit their website. Later on in June they also have Sweet Charity.