Production insight: behind the scenes of Bye Bye BirdieMon 10 June 2019
This month our second-year students take musical theatre to Blackheath Halls with rock and roll inspired Bye Bye Birdie (14-15 June) and Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields, and Neil Simon’s iconic Sweet Charity (21-22 June).
Ahead of the performances, we caught up with Bye Bye Birdie cast members Mollie Kate Angus and Ciaran McCormack to get the low down on the show.
Tell us a little bit about your production: When have you set it? Have you altered any details from the original script / score?
Mollie Kate Angus (MKA): We’ve set our production in its original time period of 1950s American, but made relevant cuts to satirise the American Dream.
Ciaran McCormack (CM): Our Musical Director, David Randall, has taken a traditional musical theatre score and added a contemporary twist.
How has the creative process been so far?
MKA: We’ve had a lot of creative input on this production which has been a brilliant. So far it’s been a collaborative workshop process, developing ideas and finding out what works and what doesn’t, which has been exciting to see.
Bye Bye Birdie was first staged back in 1960. What makes it continue to be a relevant story for audiences today?
CM: Everyone has really stepped up to the challenge of generating ideas around how to stage the show to make it relevant and interesting for today’s audience. The show’s themes, such as teenage fixation on celebrity figures, really resonate.
MKA: The storyline involving Conrad Birdie relates to the effect of the media and not knowing what’s real, which really mirrors current events.
Have there been any particular challenges?
MKA: It’s been challenging to come up with certain ideas which will poke fun at the era and not celebrate it.
CM: It has been difficult to find a way of telling the story without suggesting that we as actors and creatives agree with the beliefs and views that the show holds, but everyone has really stepped up to the challenge of generating ideas around how to stage the show to make it relevant and interesting for today’s audience. Another challenge is that this is the first time Trinity Laban Musical Theatre have performed in the newly renovated Blackheath Halls, which is a big space. We have had to find a way to stage the show that keeps the audience engaged at all times.
Finally, how do you hope the audience at Blackheath Halls respond to seeing the show?
MKA: We ultimately hope they enjoy it, but realise how ridiculous that era was.
Tickets are on sale now at blackheathhalls.com/whats-on
Learn more about our musical theatre programmes on our Study pages