Bixby’s Best in Bye Bye Birdie

Harrison Farnam has one of the leading roles in Bixby High School's production of Bye Bye Birdie.

Harrison Farnam has one of the leading roles in Bixby High School's production of Bye Bye Birdie.

Sierra Isaacson, Reporter

Connie Coleman directs the vocals in Bye Bye Birdie.

 When painting a picture, the artist always considers how the image makes an individual feel; it is meant to be understood and analyzed as a single frame in time. But in other forms of art, such as theater, the piece evolves and changes, and appeals to the entire audience rather than just a single person.

On Friday and Saturday this week, Bixby High School teachers Betty Fisher-Stanton and Connie Coleman will direct Bye Bye Birdie, a musical with multiple, intertwining perspectives centered around the courting of a small town girl and a rock star who has to have one last publicity stunt before going to war. The musical has struck chords with people both onstage and onscreen since 1963, connecting with the older generations and making jokes and connections about events from the early ’60’s, such as the character Conrad Birdie being wordplay on a famous singer of that era named Conway Twitty.

Bixby hasn’t done this play since the early 1980s and Coleman, the vocal director in Bye Bye Birdie, says “it is popular because it follows a formula, like a guy-gets-the-girl story.”

Coleman adds that today’s musicals are more original and abstract, and that “it’s important that these kids perform the classics now because they may never get to in their careers.” Many of the performers in this high school production don’t believe that they will pursue acting as a profession, but they will always treasure the memory of performing onstage.

Coleman and Fisher-Stanton wanted to perform a musical that could cast a lot of people, so they began auditions on the first week of January and looked for students who could both portray the characters and have the vocal talent needed to sing the characters’ songs. In the end, 37 people were recruited for Bye Bye Birdie, they practiced four days a week until 5:30 p.m., and even incorporate the band in a few of the songs.

Senior Harrison Farnam, portraying the mayor, says, “[Acting] allows you to connect with other people, challenges, and engages your empathy; it also forces you to get outside of your comfort zone.”

Farnam has had a love of acting since he was young, and hopes to grow and learn everyday as an actor.

Acting is like stepping into another world as another person. Actors can’t just pretend; they have to adopt the emotions as their own and react to the world around them.
Thus, you have to be fully in tune with yourself to be someone else.