July 17, 2008

‘Bye, Bye Birdie’ Says Hello to Live Music

By Andy Goodell, The Creston News Advertiser, Iowa

Jul. 17--This show really comes alive.

Crest Area Theater's production of the Broadway classic, "Bye, Bye Birdie" will include a live band playing along with the actors from the rarely used orchestra pit at the Creston High School auditorium. "Bye, Bye Birdie" is a musical satire on American society set in 1958, and centers around one teenage girl's interest in Elvis-like teen heartthrob Conrad Birdie.

The pit sits between the audience and stage at a depth of several feet, completely hiding the live band from those seated in the auditorium.

Joseph Mullin, 14, who plays French horn in the production's live band, said the pit hasn't been utilized for a musical like "Bye, Bye Birdie" in more than 10 years. Mullin also couldn't be more enthusiastic about this unique opportunity to play along with actors.

Joseph's mother and director of the production Julia Weisshaar-Mullin will help the actors and musicians stay in sync, Mullin said. He added, although it can be challenging, there are benefits to having a live band play with actors, as opposed to having the actors try to sync-up with prerecorded music.

"We can't see what's going on on stage, so we really have to trust our director," said Mullin. "It's probably better to have a live band because, if something goes wrong on stage, the tape is just going to keep going and the actors could get lost. If we have a director and a live band, the director can just cue us in at the right spot."

Julie Weisshaar, who plays secretary Rosie Alverez in the musical, agreed saying live music brings a certain authenticity to the "crazy, romantic and happy" play.

"That really makes it like a live show on Broadway," said Weisshaar of the pit band/actor exchange. "It's a real living, breathing relationship. It's a real give and take. It is much more organic."


Andy Goodell can be reached at

(641) 782-2141 ext. 242 or

[email protected]


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