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Classic All-American Musical Bye Bye Birdie “Rocked” the PAC!

The 2019 musical production of Bye Bye Birdie, which featured performers from all sections of RIS—and even some parents—was the result of more than four months of intense preparation by students, teachers, and crew members. During that time, the performers learned choreography for several dance numbers, mastered complex harmonies, and even shared some of the roles as part of our double-cast production. That’s right: this year’s production featured not one but TWO leading casts. It was a huge undertaking that required countless hours of focused rehearsals, learning how to collaborate as one whole ensemble to coordinate all of the high-energy chorus numbers, set transitions, and diverse character relationships. 

Bye Bye Birdie - A lot of living to do

With more than 80 people either onstage or backstage for each of the 6 performances that took place during the first week of March, it was an exciting culmination of everyone’s hard work. We were proud to show off the many talents of our RIS student body and to bring the joy of this classic all-American musical to the PAC stage.

Bye Bye Birdie - Honestly Sincere and Ed Sullivan

Drama teacher and Director Sarah Abrams reflected on why the Performing Arts department “double-cast” the show, as well as on some of the successes and challenges of that choice:

“We were completely amazed at the amount of incredibly talented and brave performers who came to audition this year. At first, we planned to have a traditional casting structure with some understudies for the leads. However, we quickly realized that it would have been impossible to choose between some of the performers. When the idea of double-casting came up, we were open to it but worried because it would mean a tremendous amount of work for everyone as we would essentially be preparing two versions of the show. 

Bye Bye Birdie - One last kiss
Bye Bye Birdie - Ice house

Although it did mean a lot of work and many hours in rehearsal, there were many special moments that demonstrated how the double-casting impacted the shows in ways we couldn’t have foreseen. Those who shared roles bonded in positive ways as they and supported each other and created their characters together. Having more people in the lead roles forced the students to take extra risks and share more of themselves with the ensemble. As with most performing arts projects here at RIS, the show developed beautifully and took on a life of its own in countless ways. As much as I will remember the incredible week of performances, my lasting memory of the experience that will stay with me always is what the actors brought to the work and what they shared with one another.”