Director Bryan Libero releases, perhaps even unleashes, the collective talents of 25 of the best and brightest META-award nominated WISTA performers to conjure up a stellar storm of superb dance and romance, music and song, pride and passion, and a bit of ironic cynicism looking at the cult of fame, seemingly solid interpersonal relationships, and our society’s insatiable obsession with celebrity. A scorching swath of unlikely love triangles blaze a path that makes a pivotal stop center stage at John Rennie High School’s Louise Chalmers Theatre for an unquestionably pulsating production of timeless Tony Award-winning Broadway production and later film favorite, Bye Bye Birdie. The celebrated West Island Student Theatre Association troupe will sing and dance their way into your hearts for six show-stopping performances that vibrantly illustrate that when one chapter of our lives end, another is already set to begin.
Set in rock & roll’s much-mourned heyday, when a songster superstar could be conscripted into the military, and, in the blink of an eye – or a hip swivel – could leave it all behind and be yesterday’s news. But the “it” performer of the moment, Conrad Birdie, will not go gently into that good night; not without a fight, and most certainly not without a televised kiss from one of his legion of devoted fans. His agent and songwriter Albert and faithful fiancée (and savvy secretary) Rosie are the real puppeteers behind the latest object of adoration in fame’s fleeting revolving door. They have their own issues to deal with, besides the imminent loss of their main meal ticket and making preparations to subsequently churn out their next processed pinup boy. They figure one lucky teenage girl will live out EVERY teenage girl’s fantasy on the grandest stage of them all at that time, the equally-mourned Sunday night television tradition The Ed Sullivan Show, and kiss the icon before he goes off to serve his country. Hijinks ensue, effortlessly brought to life by the crisp and concise acting and musical performances of the powerhouse ensemble cast under the watchful musical eye of Kyla Smith and choreographed with breathtaking fluidity by Debbie Freidmann.
Expert comedic timing, nuanced but powerful stage decoration and lighting, and all that you would expect and more needed to take you back to a time of innocent adolescent crushes, musical revolution, a generation gap widening by parents used to a certain order of things and a rebellious spirit in postwar youth yearning to throw off its Conservative shackles and jitterbug their way into the future. Producer (and WISTA President) Craig Berger sang the praises of his talented cast and crew, and their trademark enthusiasm during rehearsals, accurately having predicted that which was merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg – opening night left the audience riveted and telling anyone they know who will be seeing one of the remaining five performances that they’ll be treating themselves to a romp through the milestones, hopes and dreams, heartthrobs and heartbreaks that most of us experience in a lifetime. WISTA delivers again, and you have a chance to see a satirical, rip-roaringly funny take on the musical you’ve known for decades on the big stage and the big screen up until June 18th. Visit www.WISTA.ca for more details.