"I started out by
giving them a history lesson: Welcome to the '50s," said Tina Sheing.
after the academic year ended, a Brandywine School District
summer program, under Sheing's direction, has been preparing a production of the 1960 Gower
Champion musical 'Bye Bye Birdie'. The show is a take-off on the
hoopla generated by Presley's induction into the Army.
None of the 76
students, who range in age age from eight to 18, is ready to go
back, but for five weeks this summer they're enthusiastic about
living for a little while in their grandparents' generation.
The cast and
chorus rehearse a scene from 'Bye Bye Birdie'. Emily
Bates Majewski is choreographer for the show.
Emily Ozer, who
plays Kim, the teen selected to give Birdie a goodbye kiss on
national television, said the show's music is "very catchy." She
has been performing since she was seven and giving up five
afternoons a week for five weeks for rehearsal is no problem
because she loves theater.
Ozer got her
acting start appearing in an Arden Gild production of William
Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. She has since been in
school shows and performed with the Wilmington Drama League and
City Theater Company. "This is my first staring role," she said.
There will be
four performances of 'Bye Bye Birdie' -- at 7 p.m. on July 24,
25 and 26 and a 2 p.m. matinee on July 26 -- in the Mount
Pleasant High School auditorium. They are open to the public.
Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.
Sheing, who is
giving up vacation time from her job at the University of
Delaware, said the effort is worth it. "I love working with the
kids." She has performed and directed both professionally and in
This show is
unlike other high school productions with which she has been
involved because the time available to put it together is more
concentrated. "We usually have three months. We're doing this
one in just five weeks," she said.
The cast has been
rehearsing five afternoons a week for four hours.
accepted the challenge and have measured up to it well. "They
all want to be here and do a good job," Sheing said. "The
turnout was even more than we expected. We were looking for
maybe 30 or 40, but we got twice that." The students paid $150
to be in the program.
who plays Birdie, said he would like to make acting a career.
School plays are the way to go because "if that's what you want
you have to start early," he said.
Kendra Eckbold, who has the
female lead, said it has been a good experience working with
students from other schools. The program was not limited to
students in Brandywine district schools and about a third attend
other public and private schools.
Jordan Weagraff, who plays
opposite Eckbold as Birdie's manager, said it is a great
experience spending part of the summer putting on a show. "I
love doing it. It keeps you busy and is better than sitting home
in front of a computer," he said
Erin Courtney, a middle school
student, said the program is a good start toward continuing into
dramatics when she gets to high schools. "It's a great
experience," she said. "And it's fun."
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