StarStruck Stages Must-See Birdie

by W. Fred Crow, The Arts
Milpitas Post – August 19, 2004

The gentleness of the 1950s does exist and is in pleasant quantities in Star Struck Music Theatre’s latest production, “Bye Bye Birdie.” Unencumbered by the simplest of plots, “Birdie” is a story about one last kiss. Conrad Birdie (Evan Boomer) is off to the Army a la Elvis and as a publicity stunt, offers to pucker one on sweet teen Kim Macafee (Juliane Godfrey) before getting his marching orders.

Lori Stokes, director, holds a tender touch that exposes the fun and joy of a time of innocence. “Bye Bye Birdie” is a fun show with nothing lacking. Stokes, challenged by the outdoor venue of the Ohlone College Amphitheater, gave studied, broad strokes of the play, and paid tight attention to many of the smaller details.

The play kept to a good pace and tight timing and has an appeal suitable for the whole family. The music was toe tapping, the dancing enjoyable, and the entire program entertaining.

Sharing the limelight were James Huang (Albert Peterson) and Kristin Stokes (Rose Alvarez), as the music business mini-mogul wanting to make the big time and his long-suffering secretary. Their relationship survives success and failure and success again. Solid in dialogue, they excelled in song. Huang was clear and engaging, Stokes was an absolute delight singing and dancing.

The Macafees were the stereotypical of the 1950s family. Dad (Andrew Sa), mom (Jessie Andersen), daughter Kim (Godfrey), and son (Daniel Schonhaut) play the ensembled kin nicely. Sa rolled along on the edge as an Ed Sullivan wannabe and Andersen offer the Donna Reed mirror.

Stacey Lynn Bell was a kick as Mae Peterson, Albert’s insufferable mother and Michael Wheeler (Hugo Peabody) played the jealous boyfriend with a flair. The music, under director Nancy Godfrey was sound, and the dancing, under Jeanne Batacan-Harper, was a kick.

“Bye Bye Birdie” played through Aug. 14 at the Ohlone College Amphitheatre.