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‘Bye Bye Birdie’ soars on stage

Leads recount starring experiences in musical

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Photo by Gina Pieri

(L to R) Olivia Dominguez, Aria Bernardi and Laura Kuper do vocal warm-ups.

Musical season is here, and drawing to a close. The 2017 musical, “Bye Bye Birdie”, involves a multitude of strong leads and moments of comedic relief to entertain the audience. Behind the fantastic script, however, is the actors who not only play but connect to the characters through their hours of rehearsal. Vocal coaching and various choreography workshops and reviews take place throughout the winter season in preparation for the February performances. The leads are in the theater for the longest hours in both ways.

“It’s not too different from any other part, but there’s more expected from you,” said senior lead Bryan Rapala. “The leads really set the tone for how the rest of the performances go. If the leads aren’t giving it their all, the rest of the ensemble won’t either. As much as you’re a lead, you’re a leader.”

The time in rehearsal, while time-consuming and busy, is also social and exciting.

“It really is something worth experiencing,” said senior lead Olivia Dominguez. “You get to see your friends in a whole new light. You see musical talents in other people.”

The show is often, at cast masses, prayers before performances and general discussion, referred to as a family.

“Everyone involved is so welcoming, it’s like one big happy family where everyone gets to put on one big show,” said sophomore lead Kevin Wilhite.

“It’s really great,” said junior lead Kevin Goss. “People are so nice; performing is a ton of fun. You get to do something really unique.”

The idea of this theater family usually began long before the Saint Viator stage.

“We had an eighth grade musical, which I tried out for,” said Rapala. “I remember we did ‘The Music Man’. I got the role of Marcellus Washburn. I tried out for the musical freshman year at Saint Viator, and I loved it.”

“I started in middle school,” said Dominguez. “I remember that I felt inspired to do it from stars on Disney Channel.”

“I did musicals when I was in junior high at Saint Teresa’s,” said Wilhite. “I saw the Viator musical when going on a school field trip to it. I really enjoyed the environment and I decided that it was something that I wanted to participate in.”

Some, however, found their place (and starring role) beginning in high school.

“I joined freshman year,” said Goss. “I chose to do it at complete random. It was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.” The welcoming community formed by the cast and crew is open to everyone, and everyone’s musical talent is developed throughout the winter season from ensemble members to stars. As the rehearsals end and performance dates approach, the leads reflect on some of their favorite memories throughout their time acting.

“I know that you’re probably going to hear this a lot: it’s the level of friendship you develop,” said Rapala. “You meet senior guys. You get to know freshman and help them become part of the social circle at Viator; welcome them into the family.”

“It has got to be the week of dress rehearsal,” said Dominguez. “It’s at this point that you can see the whole play coming together. It really feels like you’re a part of a family that’s growing closer as the show draws closer.”

“I really liked singing the song Sincere,” said Wilhite about his role as Conrad in “Bye Bye Birdie”. “I love the costumes in that scene, everybody swooning over you. It’s a ton of fun.” In the end, its the community that draws everyone in and allows them to leave lighthearted each year.

Goss puts it best when he said the best part is “just being on stage with your friends”. The familial surroundings and music bring everyone back year after year.

Reporting by David Hegberg

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The student news site of Saint Viator High School
‘Bye Bye Birdie’ soars on stage