Poteet's tech-savvy take on 'Birdie' proves winning

The musical "Bye Bye Birdie" may be nearly 50 years old, but the fresh approach in the Poteet Little Theatre's summer production pulls it so much into today's technology that its age only shows in the content, not in the staging.

Upon entering the intimate theater, the audience is greeted with three big projection screens, framed like those clunky television sets from the Fifties. Running silently under early rock music are shows like "Andy Griffith" or a Three Stooges short. Later, the screens serve as shadow scrims for the actors and to project photographs which set the scene.

This clever approach comes from director Jay Prock, also executive director of arts at St. Luke's. Another impressive feat is how often and seamlessly he shuffles his exuberant cast of 80 on and off the stage, although some of that credit also goes to his second choreographer, Aubrey Adams.

Talented Bart Varner, who usually works backstage doing musical direction, charms in a role perfect for him. Lovely Jennifer Teel has the stage presence and singing and dancing ability to smashingly power her role, too.

Erin Roche's gorgeous voice and innocent sexuality play just right, as does John Gehling as her dumped boyfriend. Ben Richardson is delightfully greasy.

Poteet's mission to provide a performing venue for children and teenagers is beautifully realized here, as the numerous ensembles are just the ages to show us in a fresh way just what makes "Bye Bye Birdie" so enduring. "?Linda McDonald

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