VSMT’s ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ welcome peek into the past

Clarissa Gabriel

At a time when it is considered normal and almost expected for a pop star to shave her head and for the FCC to continue to allow profanities nightly on network stations, it is more than refreshing to step back to a time when the pelvic shake was all it took to throw a community into shambles.

If there’s any chance to experience hearty comedy, spot-on acting and talented music, look no further than St. Mary’s Auditorium, where VSMT’s fall musical, “Bye-Bye Birdie,” provides the hidden entertainment needed to escape the regular humdrum of college life.

At the beginning of every great story is a love story, either requited or, in this case, unrequited between agent and songwriter.

Albert Peterson (Andrew Clare) and Rose Alvarez (Julie Crane) come up with a publicity stunt for singer Conrad Birdie (Chris Irving) to record a song for the nation before he is shipped off to serve in the war.

The plan is to select one lucky girl to sing to and give “One Last Kiss,” live on the Ed Sullivan Show.

That special girl is teenager Kim MacAfee (Ann Dillon), the newly “pinned” and “steady girl” of Hugo Peabody (Tom McHugh).

Not only do the conflicts begin here, but much more is thrown into the mix with the challenging opinions of Kim MacAfee’s parents, sweet and doting Doris MacAfee (Trish Campbell) and eager-to-be-televised Harry MacAfee (Dave McFadden).

The union of Peterson and Alvarez is also met with disagreement by the unforgettably humorous Mae Peterson (Kate Reynolds).

All variants of comedy are added to this already side-splitting play, including the mistreated child Randolph MacAfee (Erica Forgione), members of the Conrad Birdie Fan Club and the talented chorus.

However, the story only begins here and needs only experience to discover the outcome.

But all of this would not be as entertaining as it is without the direction of the innovative, immensely talented and always witty Charlie Gillespie, with his entire production team making it all possible.

If there were any doubt that musical, acting and comedic talents reside in the halls of Villanova, VSMT’s fall performance of “Bye, Bye Birdie” has blown that idea out of the water.

If you find yourself lucky enough to escape 2008, step back to 1958, “Put on a Happy Face” and you will enjoy every minute of it. It’ll be hard not to.

“Bye Bye Birdie” is showing in St. Mary’s Auditorium tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at 8 p.m.