Preview: Montour rehearses 'Bye Bye Birdie'

by: Natalie Simon Updated:

Check out photos of Montour High School students rehearsing "Bye Bye Birdie."

Montour High School will perform the musical “Bye Bye Birdie” on a brand new stage in April.

For the past four years, the students have used David E. Williams Middle School to put on their musical performances. This year, the students have the advantage of utilizing a brand new high school auditorium.

Making this year's production even more special -- the school's first musical performance in 1971 was “Bye Bye Birdie.”

“I think it’s a great way to open up the new auditorium in memory of the old auditorium” said senior lead Olivia Barth.

Barth’s role this year is Kim MacAfee, a teenage girl who is chosen to be Conrad Birdie’s one last kiss. Barth has more than five years of musical experience and enjoys the bubbliness and energy of her character. However, there are challenges to playing a maturing teenage girl.

“I sometimes find it very difficult to try and act old while trying to act young.  Obviously it’s stressful at times,” said Barth.

Senior lead Jason Marko also has to take on a more mature role than he’s used to.  Marko plays Kim’s father, Mr. Harry MacAfee.

“I have always had roles that were younger, not older or father-like, so it’s a big change,” said Marko.

The challenges come with rewards, though. “Bye Bye Birdie” may be a demanding musical both vocally and physically, but the energy put forth makes everything worth it.

“It is a love-hate relationship. The three hour, three day-a-week rehearsals for four months can make people lose their brains, but when the show performances start and we look back, it’s an amazing experience, and I would never trade it,” said Marko.

Director Tammy Townsend won’t trade the experience either. This is her eighth year as high school musical director, and she brings just as much energy as her cast. Townsend’s favorite thing about the “Bye Bye Birdie” cast is that more than half of them are new to musical theater. Their youth and eagerness are aspects that keep bringing her back.

“Getting to know the teenagers is what I enjoy most,” said Townsend. “They age me and keep me young at the same time.”

Townsend has helped instill a love of musical theater in her cast members’ hearts. Some may be moving on to pursue a career in theater, but the ones who aren’t will still hold it close the their hearts.

“I’m not sure if I’ll pursue a musical theater career yet,” said Barth. “If I don’t make it a part of my career, it will always be a part of my life.”

“Bye Bye Birdie” runs April 12-21.