I walked into the Thomas Jefferson Theatre last weekend and I felt like I walked into a Silver Diner with songs of the 50’s setting the tone for what was to come. The show makes a timely run in the DC area with a Broadway revival starring John Stamos slated to open in two weeks. The show revolves around songwriter and manager Albert Peterson (Chris Gillespie) and his client, Conrad Birdie (Michael Bigley.) When the pre-Jonas teen heart-throb is drafted in the Army, Peterson hatches up a publicity stunt to have Birdie go out with a bang.
Anne Marie Pinto plays Rosie Alvarez, Peterson’s secretary/love interest who is at odds with Albert’s mother, Mae (Kat Brais.) Kim MacAfee (Jordan Hougham) is the cute and adorable Conrad Birdie fan-club member that is to be kissed by Birdie on his last National television appearance.
The show’s strong points lie in the music. David Rohde leads what I have to admit is the best sounding Orchestra I’ve ever heard in a musical. Anne Marie Pinto and Jordan Hougham have absolutely beautiful voices and were real highlights to me in the show.
Besides great musical performances from the principals, the supporting cast gave entertaining efforts that almost stole every scene. I thought both Melissa Stamps and Kat Brais were very funny in playing the two mothers in the show: Kim’s effervescent mother Doris, or Albert’s thrifty and passive-aggressive mama Mae. My personal gold star goes to Cassandra Hodziewich, who’s ten minute cameo as Gloria Rasputin is absolutely unforgettable.
Amanda Acker designs another impressive set and also puts on the Producer hat for this production. Paired with the costume design of Lory Levitt and Irene Molnar, the resulting palette of colors in the show was pleasing from the first ensemble scene to the final outlines in the shadows.
Musical numbers like “The Telephone Hour” and “Put On A Happy Face” were cute and will be sure to take you back to a familiar time (funny I say that as a kid born in the 80’s.) In today’s world of Hannah Montana and The Jonas Brothers, Bye Bye Birdie tells a story of teenage teeny-boppers of an earlier time but should still resonate with all the trouble show biz brings to young stars today.
Bye Bye Birdie
Closing this weekend: October 2 —4
Thomas Jefferson Community Center