Tag Archives: “Bye Bye Birdie”

“Bye Bye Birdie”; Hello Tisdale!

“Bye Bye Birdie” is a staple of student drama troupes. What can you say about it that hasn’t already been said?

In the case of this weekend’s performances at Bedford Middle School: plenty.

The show features students from both Bedford and Coleytown Schools, so it should be a blockbuster.

Oliver Hallgarten, and admirers. (Photo/January Stewart)

In keeping with the theme, there’s a special ice cream social sock hop prior to the Saturday matinee. It includes ice cream from Saugatuck Sweets, hula hoop and dance contests, and free funky socks.

But that’s not the big news.

The sock hop is a benefit for the Turnaround Arts program. That’s a national arts education project with schools that face daunting educational challenges.

Bedford’s Turnaround Arts partner is the Jettie S. Tisdale School in Bridgeport. Together, Tisdale students are developing their talents and voices.

After each season’s show, Bedford donates its set, costumes and props — plus a donation from a raffle and promotions — to support Tisdale’s next production.

Andrew Maskoff and Ellie Cohen, in Bedford Company’s “Bye Bye Birdie.” (Photo/January Stewart)

But it does not stop there. After their show, Tisdale passes those resources on to another Turnaround Arts school. Then of course, they do the same…

The ice cream social and sock hop begin at 12:30 p.m. this Saturday (November 23). Raffles will take place at all “Bye Bye Birdie” performances (Friday and Saturday, November 22 and 23, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.). Click here for tickets, and more information.

Enjoy the show! It’s sure to make you “put on a happy face.”

Remembering Gene Bayliss

Since the 1960s, Staples Players has earned renown for its Broadway-style productions.

The directors and technical advisors deserve plenty of credit. But so do the choreographers.

Beginning in the 1960s, Players have been blessed with choreographers with actual Broadway experience. One of those was Gene Bayliss.

Gene Bayliss

Gene Bayliss

Bayliss — who died last week at 89 — had a storied life. A Birmingham, Alabama native, he starred in many shows at Northwestern University. He was head cheerleader there too, and when the football team traveled to California for the 1949 Rose Bowl, Gene made national headlines by cartwheeling off the train in a raccoon coat and straw hat.

In 1996 — for the school’s 2nd Rose Bowl appearance — he provided an encore at the alumni dinner.

In New York City, Gene — who combined “graceful, creative movement with articulate, expressive speech and leadership” — earned praise as a director and choreographer. He danced in commercials and on live TV, and worked with Dinah Shore, Dave Garroway, and pageants like Miss USA and Miss Universe.

Gene created the staging for the show-stopping “Telephone Hour” and “Lot of Livin” numbers in “Bye Bye Birdie.” He served as associate choreographer for “Carnival,” and recreated those shows (and many others) for over 150 regional and international tours.

He also produced product launches and corporate meetings for Fortune 500 companies.

Gene Bayliss choreographed the Miss Universe pageant in 1977. Here he acts as a stand-in for the winner during rehearsal.. He's crowned by the reigning Miss Universe Rina Messinger, as host Bob Barker looks on.

Gene Bayliss choreographed the Miss Universe pageant in 1977. Here he acts as a stand-in for the winner during rehearsal.. He’s crowned by the reigning Miss Universe Rina Messinger, as host Bob Barker looks on.

But it was Gene’s work with Staples High School that brought him his most local renown. Working with Players directors Craig Matheson and Al Pia, he brought Broadway to the high school stage (including a few signature acts from “Carnival”).

Every Christmas for years, Staples’ Candlelight Concert featured a new production number that he created and choreographed specially for the choir.

Those were his ways of giving something back to the worlds of theater and music he loved so much. (He was also happy to do something for the school his 6 children attended.)

Former Players and choir members recall his avid interest in their careers — and his care and concern for them as teenagers too.

Gene was vice president of the Connecticut Ballet School, and an active parishioner at both the Church of the Assumption and St. John’s in Weston.

A funeral mass is set for tomorrow (Monday, September 19, 11 a.m.) at Assumption Church. Interment with military honors follows in Assumption Cemetery.

Donations in Gene’s memory may be made to the Lambs Foundation, which supports America’s theater legacy. For Gene Bayliss’ full obituary, click here.

“Bye Bye Birdie”: A Sneak Peek

“Bye Bye Birdie” — Staples Players’ summer production — opens tonight in the high school auditorium.

It’s a classic show, with broad appeal. Little kids, folks who loved the original (slimmed-down) Elvis, and everyone in between — all will appreciate the talented 2013 cast’s take.

Click here (or below) for a preview of the dancing and pit orchestra, as Jack Seigenthaler sings “Honestly Sincere.”



“Bye Bye Birdie” will be performed tonight (Friday, July 26, 7:30 p.m.); Saturday, July 27 (2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.), and Sunday, July 28 (4 p.m.). Click here for tickets.

The action never stops in "Bye Bye Birdie." (Photo by Kerry Long)

Claire Smith as Rosie in “Bye Bye Birdie.” (Photo by Kerry Long)

The staging and lighting is as much a part of the show as the singing, dancing and pit orchestra. (Photo by Kerry Long)

The staging and lighting are as much a part of the show as the singing, dancing and pit orchestra. (Photo by Kerry Long)

“Bye Bye Birdie” Sweeps Onto Staples Stage

“Bye Bye Birdie” is a staple on high school and middle school stages.

But until this coming weekend, it has never been performed in the Staples auditorium.

Staples Players (and summer production) directors David Roth and Kerry Long are huge fans of the musical. They’ve often talked of doing it — but the time never seemed right.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it is.

Jack Seigenthaler (as Conrad Birdie) is surrounded by adoring fans. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Jack Seigenthaler (as Conrad Birdie) is surrounded by adoring fans. (Photo by Kerry Long)

The show — inspired by the intense popularity of Elvis Presley, and his 1957 draft notice — is a satire of that era. But some school productions — well, let’s just say they stage it a bit too straightforwardly.

That won’t happen this time. David and Kerry are working their magic once again, bringing the satirical best out of a big — and enormously talented — cast.

It’s perfect summer fare. Kids will love it, because the “kids” onstage have such a blast. It’s funny and fun, with tons of bright colors, intriguing characters, and great dancing and music.

Jack Bowman as Hugo Peabody, and Michelle Pauker as Kim MacAfee. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Jack Bowman as Hugo Peabody, and Michelle Pauker as Kim MacAfee. (Photo by Kerry Long)

“Bye Bye Birdie” offers a chance for many Staples Players — plus recent graduates, and excellent performers from surrounding towns — to strut their stuff.

Jack Seigenthaler — Weston High’s popular leading man — plays Conrad Birdie. Clay Singer and Tyler Jent are double-cast as Conrad’s manager. Claire Smith is Albert’s secretary and love interest. Michelle Pauker is Kim MacAfee, the small- town girl upon whom Conrad will bestow his “last kiss.”

And after half a century, Conrad will finally do it on the Staples stage.

“Bye Bye Birdie” will be performed on Friday, July 26 (7:30 p.m.), Saturday, July 27 (2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.), and Sunday, July 28 (4 p.m.). Click here for tickets.

Maddy Rozynek plays Mae Peterson; Clay Singer is Albert Peterson. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Maddy Rozynek plays Mae Peterson; Clay Singer is Albert Peterson. (Photo by Kerry Long)