It’s ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ as CSUN’s Teenage Drama Workshop Takes on One of Broadway’s First Rock ‘n’ Roll Musical Comedies
(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., Jul. 18th, 2012) ―
Broadway is coming to California State University, Northridge as the Department of Theatre’s Teenage Drama Workshop takes on the Tony Award-winning musical, “Bye Bye Birdie.”
Teenage Drama Workshop students rehearse ‘Bye Bye Birdie’
More than 40 teenagers, under the direction of Broadway veteran Ray Saar, give new life to the acclaimed musical that explores what happens to a group of small town teenagers when rock ‘n’ roll star Conrad Birdie is drafted into the army in the 1950s.
The show opens Wednesday, July 25, and runs through Friday, Aug. 3, in the Campus Theatre near the southwest corner of campus located at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.
“In just a few short weeks, these young people have come together to create a show that would rival any production, regardless of the age of its performers,” said CSUN theater professor Doug Kaback, director of Teenage Drama Workshop (TADW).
“Bye Bye Birdie” is one of two productions CSUN’s Teenage Drama Workshop is presenting this summer. “Snow White and the Magnificent Seven,” co-written by veteran performers and TADW instructors Ronnie Sperling and Chris Halsted, premieres Friday, July 20, and runs through Saturday, Aug. 4, in the Little Theatre, also located near the southwest corner of the Northridge campus.
Every morning for the past few weeks, more than 80 teenagers have been immersed in the day-to-day reality of a professional theatrical troupe—from designing lighting, costumes and sets to learning lines and choreography. The teenagers spend their afternoons preparing for their performances.
TADW started out 55 years ago as an activity for teens to call attention to the cultural resources available at what was then San Fernando Valley State College. Over the years, the workshop has grown into a nationally acclaimed drama program that draws teens from across the country.
The workshop is open to students entering grades 7 to 12. In the morning, the teenagers attend classes that focus on acting, voice and dance and can choose electives in improvisation, musical theater, playwriting or the technical aspect of theater production. The afternoons are spent in rehearsal.
The “10-Minute Play Festival,” scheduled for Aug. 2 and 4 in the Little Theatre, exemplifies the integrated nature of the program, where students in the playwriting and improvisation electives collaborate to bring an idea from “page to stage” in six short weeks.
Rehearsing ‘Bye Bye Birdie’
CSUN music professor Diane Ketchie, who made her Broadway debut in “Phantom of the Opera,” oversees TADW’s voice classes and is the musical director for “Bye Bye Birdie.”
She credits the high caliber of TADW’s performances to the talent of the students and the programs’ teachers.
“All the people who teach here are active performing professionals,” Ketchie said. “We treat our students as professionals. Our expectations are that they are capable of doing a professional performance. We set the bar very high and say ‘you can do it,’ and they get there.”
Saar, who has appeared in “Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miserables” and “The King and I,” said he and his colleagues draw on their professional experiences in working with their casts.
“They may be between the ages of 12 and 18, but these are talented young people and I know I want them to be better than me, and I will work with them to achieve that goal,” he said.
For more information about TADW or any of the performances, call (818) 677-5811, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.csun.edu/tadw/. Tickets for the shows are $14 for adults, $10 for children and seniors and $10 per person for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available through the A.S. Ticket Office at (818) 677-2488.
For a backstage peek at the Teenage Drama Workshop, visit TADW’s blog at http://tadwbackstage.blogspot.com/.