New Castle News

School Musicals

April 24, 2013

Photo Gallery, Preview, Cast List: Portersville Christian School presents ‘Bye, Bye Birdie’

NEW CASTLE — Ed Sullivan plays a part in “Bye, Bye Birdie,” but the television icon doesn’t have a role with today’s teens.

Educating the cast of Portersville Christian School’s musical about the “old school references” in “Birdie,” was just one of director Ryan Ingram’s challenges this year.

“It’s a rebuilding year, we only have one senior in the cast,” explained Ingram, who along with his wife, Courtney, have directed PCS’s spring musicals and fall dramas for about four years.

“A lot of these kids are new to the musical and had an eye-opening experience seeing all the work that goes into a production,” added Ingram, who works at U.S. Investigative Services in Grove City and has a degree in musical theater from Seton Hill University. “And a lot of the younger ones had to step up.”

Some were stepping Gangham style.

Set in the 1950s, “Birdie” tells the story of an Elvis-like teenage heartthrob, Conrad Birdie, who has been drafted into the Army, leaving his manager, Albert Peterson, with a bankrupt music company.

Peterson devises a last publicity scheme to have Birdie bestow a farewell kiss upon a random fan club member during a taping of The Ed Sullivan Show. Kim MacAfee of Sweet Apple, Ohio, is the chosen girl, turning her small town upside down as teens become frantic with the arrival of the star.

Drawing on a plot filled with singing and dancing choreographed by his wife, Ingram wanted to make the play more relevant to his cast. Thus came Gangham style.

“I wanted to bring some of today’s culture into the show. Adding a modern twist, with something the kids like and know, makes the play something they’ll like and know and it brings new life to it,” Ingram explained.

The dance scenes were especially popular for sisters Ali and Meaghan Tipton of New Wilmington, both of whom are participating in their third PCS musical. Ali, a sophomore, and Meaghan, a freshman, both portray Sweet Apple Teens.

For another “teen,” seventh-grader Kelly Grace Green of New Castle, the fun of her first musical comes in “singing with my friends.”

Portraying Albert Peterson gives junior James Mangiapane of Ellwood City a chance to add another “different, quirky character” to the resume he’s been building since fifth grade.

“I especially like the songs in this show,” he added.

 “The play does have a lot of fun characters and catchy music,” Ingram noted, adding with a laugh, “It’s fun to see the relationships between the teens and their parents, maybe it will help them see all the headaches they cause their parents.”

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