An Excellent Review of BYE BYE BIRDIE from Paul Gnadt of The Star Group


We’ve reached the final weekend of BYE BYE BIRDIE at Plaza Theatre Company. And if you haven’t yet seen this amazing cast in action there’s still time. Read this excellent review of the show by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers, then give us a call at 817-202-0600 to reserve your seats – you’ll be glad you did. Now, read on:

by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers

Hurry. There’s still time to see “Bye Bye Birdie,” the current production of the Plaza Theatre Company at the Plaza Theatre in downtown Cleburne.

PTC is also simultaneously presenting “Smoke on the Mountain” at the Cleburne Conference Center, which, given its impressive stable of talent, is no problem.

While “Smoke” is about the Sanders family, “Birdie” is a family affair as directed by the mother-daughter team of Tina and Tabitha Barrus, with the husband and wife team of Josh and Caitlin Leblo in the lead roles of songwriter/agent Albert Peterson and his secretary/girlfriend Rose Alvarez.

There is also a cast of what seems like thousands but are actually students of PTC’s summer teen dance camp.

After two weeks of intense training, the teens explode with boundless energy in numerous musical numbers that feature clever choreography and some really neat tap dancing, especially in “Put on a Happy Face”.

Everyone who grew up a fan of Elvis Presley (like me) is sure the musical is based on his leaving for the Army, and there is plenty of evidence to support that: the hairstyle of rock ‘n’ roll star Conrad Birdie (played by Brandon McCormick), the twist on the name Birdie, which could be Elvis’ rival Conway Twitty, and the prominent and very funny scene involving the “Ed Sullivan Show,” on which Elvis’ twisting hips were famously kept off screen.

Anyway, here’s the plot.

Albert Peterson (Josh Leblo) is in deep hair jell because his meal ticket has been drafted into the Army. Albert’s secretary, Rose, (Caitlin Leblo), creates a publicity stunt to have Birdie record and perform a song — “One Last Kiss” —  before he is sent overseas. The song is to be sung on the Sullivan show with one girl from Birdie’s fan club getting the last kiss.

The lucky girl is Kim McAfee (Madeline Smith), 15, from Sweet Apple, Ohio, where Kim has a boyfriend (double-cast with Parker Barrus and Jesse Bowron) who thinks Kim likes Conrad more than she does him.

Conrad is a guest at Kim’s house, where her father, Harry (played hilariously by G. Aaron Siler) hates Conrad until told they are all going to be on the Sullivan show doing a remote from the house.

During the telecast, a fight breaks out and it’s funny, funny stuff. Be sure and keep your eye on Siler, a master of physical comedy.

It all works out in the end, it just takes a little while and 24 song, dance, song and dance, and tap dance numbers to get there during the two-hour performance, including the 15-minute intermission.

This is a good one to just sit back, relax and enjoy the music and dancing.
From a book by Michael Stewart, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams, “Bye Bye Birdie” features Glenn Turner as musical director and Hanna Midkiff as assistant camp director for the teen actors.

Costume design is by Kara Barnes, sound by Aaron Siler, lights by Cameron Barrus, with sets designed by Tina Barrus and constructed by JaceSon Barrus.

“Birdie” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Saturday through Aug. 3 at the Plaza Theatre, 111 N. Main St. in Cleburne.

Tickets — $15 for adults, $14 for age 65 and older, $14 for students and $13 for age 12 and under are available at the box office, or online at, or by calling 817-202-0600.

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