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March 18, 2009 > Theater Review: Bye Bye Birdie

Theater Review: Bye Bye Birdie

By Praveena Raman
Photos By Venkat Raman

The Performing Arts department at Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS) will be presenting "Bye Bye Birdie" as their spring musical starting March 19.

The story of this Charles Strouse musical was inspired by the army draft notice that popular rock star Elvis Presley received in 1958. When fictitious rock star Conrad Birdie receives the draft notice his agent Albert Peterson finds himself in financial trouble. To save his business, his secretary Rose Alvarez comes up with a publicity stunt for Conrad Birdie to record and perform a song before going overseas. Conrad, singing Albert's new song "One Last Kiss," will give a lucky fan a real kiss on the Ed Sullivan show before going into the Army.

"Bye Bye Birdie's" cast has award winning senior Drew Williams (previously seen as Bobby in MSJHS' Crazy for You) as Albert Peterson, Lance Smith as Conrad Birdie and Samira Ghassemian as Rose Alvarez. Ghassemian, a senior at MSJHS, is really enjoying the challenge of depicting the complex personality of her character Rose Alvarez. "I am nervous and at the same time excited to be playing a lead role in a musical for the first time," says Ghassemian, who has had main roles in non-musical plays.

This musical will also see the return of Jeff Oliveira (last seen as Jean Valjean in MSJHS' Les Miserables) but in an entirely different role of Music Director. This past year, after the retirement of Music Director Lee Glover, recent graduate Oliveira took over the reins of the music program at the school. According to Oliveira, "the position does have some unique challenges as I do not play the piano and rely on others for that support. But the students are flexible, eager and patient to learn and at the end of the day this is the most rewarding experience I have had."

This musical is being choreographed by Jeanne Batacan-Harper and has some energetic dance numbers. The cast is supported by the MSJHS orchestra under the direction of Monica Kraft (Orchestra director and conductor). The stage set, sound and lighting have been done by the Tech students of MSJHS drama department. Director Anne Riley with the able support of her student-directors Elizabeth Bode and Emily Mansfield and student-producers Dipti Kanthilal and Kristy Nguyen will once again be delighting the community with this musical satire.

Tickets are $10 ($8 for under 12) and can be bought at the door or ordered by contacting MSJHS PUPS at or calling (510) 668-6077.

Bye Bye Birdie
March 19-21 and 26-28
8 p.m.
Mission San Jose High School
Little Theatre
41717 Palm Avenue, Fremont
(510) 668-6077

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