Bye Bye Birdie
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Elliot Karlan & Robin McNally Photography Ltd.

The highlight of The Mountain Playís production of Bye Bye Birdie is the abundance of talent of all ages in the large cast. While the story has a 50s teenybopper theme of an Elvis-like (Conrad Birdie) heartthrob being drafted into the Army, the songs are memorable for all ages. I saw a lot of movement in the audience from teenagers on up to people in their 80s as they kept up with the beat of the music. One man, well into his 60s held a make believe mike up and lip sang one of the songs sung by Patrick Leveque in the character of Conrad Birdie.

Leveque, in his early 20s and from Mill Valley, is one of the most sought after young talents in Bay Area musical theatre. He opened Marin Theatre this season in Lady In The Dark and recently performed a starring role in Willows Theatreís Babes In Arms.

The story hinges on Birdieís publicity agent Albert Peterson arranging a last kiss press event in a small Ohio town with one of Conradís teenage fans, Kim MacAfee. Michelle Mills, a high school student from Kentfield, brings her vocal talent to the part of Kim, stunning the audience with some of the best songs in the production.

There are of course many comic elements to this musical but the MacAfee family sings by far the favorite comic song with Mr. MacAfee the main comedian. When Kimís father, played by Randy Nazarian from Kentfield, finds out that Birdieís kissing his daughter is going to put the entire family on the Ed Sullivan show, his former disdain for the publicity stunt turns into a spontaneous outburst of a joyous song hailing his favorite TV host Ed Sullivan.

But beyond the Birdie story is the story of Albert, played by veteran actor and playwright Michael Levesque, his secretary Rosie (Erica Smith) and his meddling mother played by Sharon Boucher. The triangle of mother/son and sonís potential wife is a total comic stereotype but plays well to a large audience surrounded by trees and open sky, and the musical talent of Levesque and Smith flows effortlessly between song and dance.

Bring your cooler and a picnic lunch or buy some of the great food available at the play and enjoy a day of outdoor theatre where the hotrods, motorcycles and birds flying overhead are all real and the musical talent of the cast and orchestra are top notch.

For tickets or more information call (415) 383-1100.

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