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1:29 AM Fri, Sept. 21st

'Bye Bye Birdie' on PCA stage this weekend

Standing in a circle with hands clasped and fresh stage tips in mind, the Prescott Center for the Arts Teen Summer Stock Ensemble shouted "Birdie, Birdie, Birdie, Birdie" and then took off for a rousing evening in a dress rehearsal of the famous play, "Bye Bye Birdie."

The play, which opened Thursday and runs this weekend, is a trip back in time, when teenagers fell at the feet of Elvis Presley, swooning with screeches that reached the heavens.

Central character, Conrad Birdie (Matt Osvog) is the focus of this hullabaloo because he, like the King, has been inducted into the Army, much to the chagrin of his manager, Albert Peterson (David Perez), whose business will go belly up when he loses his superstar performer to service for his country.

The plot surrounds a going-away theme that Albert cooks up - that Conrad will give a good-gye kiss to an adoring fan on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The winner of that prize is Kim Macafee (Emma Archambeau) who lives in "Podunk, U.S.A.," with her parents and little brother.

This makes for an interesting side story, because Conrad stays with the Macafees when he comes to town to plant his kiss, and father Harry (John Bryan) has to relinquish his comforts, including his bed, for this stranger.

Of course, Albert's preoccupation with Conrad and his career creates problems with Rose Alvarez (Jordan Kiphon), who wants more of a commitment from him than being just his secretary. Meanwhile, Hugo Peabody (Sheridan Fischer) is fighting mad over girlfriend Kim's coming kiss from Conrad.

And, Albert's mom (played by Julie Cargill) dishes up hilarity with each scene she appears in.

In the end, true love holds the trump card.

The story line, built around the iconic Elvis makes the show fun, and the dancing and singing add their own colorful dimension.

The Teen Summer Stock Ensemble, made up of young actors ranging in age from 15 to 20, get a genuine theatrical experience. They have rehearsed this play and learned more than their lines. They have worked, as professional actors, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. each of the past four and a half week.

Isabelle Krueger, 16, (playing Ursula) said she loved the experience and "learned it's not always easy being a performer, and stress can get to you, but you have to get through it."

Jordan Kliphon, 15, who has been in theater since she was 7, said she learned about "inner monolgue, reactions and physical movement."

Sheridan Fischer, 16, who is participating in his second summer stock, especially anjoyed the experience of doing a show that has been on Broadway.

Before the rehearsal began, PCA Executirve Director Jon Meyer, who directs "Bye Bye Birdie," told the cast: "Work together to tell me a story, make me laugh, make me cry.Push, push, push through the show. Break all your legs."

And, the young actors did just that.