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Theatre department says ‘Hello’ to ‘Bye Bye Birdie’

Liberty University’s Department of Theatre Arts kicks off its spring theatre season tonight, Friday, Feb. 23, in Tower Theater with the upbeat, vibrant Broadway classic, “Bye Bye Birdie,” featuring a high-energy score and infectious singalong tunes. The show runs through March 4.

The musical comedy centers around the story of rock star Conrad Birdie, who gets drafted into the United States Army. Birdie’s manager, Albert Peterson, then tries to concoct a publicity stunt big enough to make up for Birdie’s sudden departure.

The original 1960 Broadway musical was inspired by the true story of rock legend Elvis Presley, who received his draft notice in 1957.

Andy Geffken, director of the play and associate professor of theatre arts, said audiences should expect a fast-paced performance intertwined with funny and romantic elements that the renowned musical is known for.

“Overall, it’s a just a very pleasant, balanced show. The reason it’s been around forever is that it has a nice broad appeal,” he said. “I think the audience is going to be pleasantly surprised about just how funny and charming it is.”

This will be Liberty’s first-ever production of the musical. Geffken said it will be very similar to the original, with extra emphasis on the singing and dancing elements.

The production will showcase a live band and a 34-member cast — one of the largest that the theatre department has featured.

Geffken said that he specifically advocated for premiering “Bye Bye Birdie” because Liberty’s talent fits perfectly with the vibe and emotion of the musical comedy. He noted that the leads are primarily sophomores, contributing to the youthful feel that the musical gives off.

More than anything, though, Geffken said those in attendance can look forward to a feel-good story set in 1950s America with dynamic choreography and a witty screenplay.

“I’m pretty sure we can count on the audience laughing quite a bit,” Geffken said. “Some people see ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ as this bubble-gum high school comedy, but this is a very sharp and intelligent script that goes along well with some catchy tunes.”

Theatre Arts Department Chair Linda Nell Cooper said it is a fantastic way to kick off the spring semester’s shows.

“It’s going to be filled with lots of fun, lots of color, and lots of dancing, so we’re really looking forward to opening night,” she said.

To purchase tickets, visit the Tower Theater website or call the Liberty University Box Office at 434-582-SEAT (7328) during weekday business hours. On the night of a performance, call the Tower Box Office at (434) 582-2085.

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