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See a little ‘Birdie’ in West Islip

St. John the Baptist High School in West

St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip opened their performance of "Bye, Bye, Birdie" Friday night, and will continue Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. (March 11, 2011) Credit: T.C. McCarthy

The audience sitting in the Ann Frances Dunne Auditorium at St. John the Baptist High School on Friday night spent three hours in the ’50s.

It was opening night for this year's annual school musical, “Bye Bye Birdie,” a satire on American society set in 1958. Performances continue at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at 1170 Montauk Hwy. in West Islip. Tickets are $12 at the door.

“It taps into the concept of the American idol and how parents react to it,” said Betsy Holub, the show’s producer. “Conrad Birdie comes into a small town and turns it upside-down.”

The play features songs that are well-known, but not necessarily for being from the Broadway play. “Put on a Happy Face,” for example, was repurposed in a Discover credit card commercial in 2007.

Holub said the show’s director, Jeanine Ecklund, makes an effort to pick a show each year that taps into different talents -- in previous years performers honed acting talents with “Oliver,” lyrical dance skills in “Children of Eden,” and last year song and dance combined in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

“It’s definitely a thought-out decision,” Holub said.

Cast members are required to maintain their grades throughout the rehearsal season, from mid-November until March. Members often also participate in sports teams and other school clubs.

“It’s a great skill for them to learn, time management,” Holub said.

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