EVERETT A seventh-grader at Marysville Middle School, Morgan McFalls plays Randolph MacAfee in Bye Bye Birdie the Village Theatre production which plays through Sunday, Jan. 21 at the Everett Performing Arts Center.
He played the role in the Village Theatres KIDSTAGE production two years ago at age 11.
Now 13, McFalls said he has grown four inches since the audition last summer and his voice has started to change as well.
I went into the auditions knowing the part very well, McFalls said adding he spent three months commuting to Issaquah for rehearsals and the run of the show there.
My homeroom teacher, Ms. Sanchez, has been very understanding, he said he has managed to maintain his 3.6 GPA through it all. To maintain his voice he drinks lots of water.
I drink two or three bottles of water during each show, he laughed.
A representative from VT, Jacque Rardin said McFalls is handling the challenges very well.
He has been a real trooper and has taken it all in stride. He sounds great. said Jacque Rardin.
Its true, McFalls really belts out the reprise of the song Kids with his characters family in the 1960 musical that portrays an Elvis-like rock star, Conrad Birdie, played complete with gyrations by Dan Connor.
Based on a book by Michael Steward with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams, Bye Bye Birdie made history as the first stage musical to deal with contemporary teens and rock-n-roll music, according to VT artistic director Steve Tomkins.
It also made Dick Van Dyke a star, Tomkins said.
McFalls made his first stage appearance at age 6 and he played in VTs KIDSTAGE production of Music Man at age 9 as well as Beauty and the Beast and Wizard of Oz since then.
In Bye Bye Birdie, he plays the younger brother of the lead character, Kim MacAfee, who has been selected by rock star Conrad Birdie, to be the recipient of his farewell kiss on the Ed Sullivan Show before he leaves for the Army.
Birdies visit to Sweet Apple, Ohio turns the small town upside down when all of his young fans go nuts with his arrival. The upheaval is centered in the MacAfee home where Birdie spends the night.
Its been a great experience working with the professionals, McFalls said adding he especially enjoyed working with Jason Collins who played Birdies agent, Albert Peterson, before leaving to join a national tour of Annie.
Jasons one for the funniest guys Ive ever met. McFalls said Collins taught him a lot. He has some really good facial expressions. McFalls said he also has learned a lot about the discipline required to juggle family and friends and school while spending so much time performing.
The young actor especially likes this show because theres a lot of potential for ad libbing.
The director gave us the freedom to get really silly, he said.
Silliness is definitely a defining characteristic of Bye Bye Birdie, and one of the most silly scenes is McFalls favorite when Conrad Birdie comes downstairs in the morning dressed in pajamas and black boots, all hung over.
Thats when the father, played by John X. Deveney, loses his patience and demands some respect from his kids.
McFalls role as Randolph is minor in the first act, but he steps into the limelight during the second act, when he asserts himself in defense of his sister and joins his parents in the reprise of the song, Kids.
Silliness is also manifested in the side-plot of agent, Albert Peterson and his domineering mother, Laura Kenny, who really hams it up as a New York mother in her efforts to prevent her son from getting hitched up with his secretary, Rosie Alvarez, played by Stacey Harris.
The robust and off-the-wall Kenny was last seen in Village Theatres The Music Man and Steel Magnolias.
When Jason Collins left the role of Albert Peterson, he was replaced by Dane Stokinger for the Everett run. Stokingers career highlights include playing Chris in the national tour of Miss Saigon and he was a part of the ensemble in a European tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was also last seen in an ensemble role in Village Theatres production of Evita, and was understudy in the role of Che.
McFalls character sister Kim MacAfee is played by Cara Rudd, making her debut with VT.
She played Liesl in The 5th Avenue Theatres production of The Sound of Music last year, was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden.
Morgan McFalls is just one of many young actors in the show, with several teens dancing with the ensemble, including John Farrey a junior at Stanwood High School.
Its a great show with lots of young talent, Farrey said.
Its really a fun comedy for the whole family, McFalls added.
The show continues through this weekend.
For tickets call the Everett Performing Arts Center at 425-257-8600 or 888-257-3722 or go online at www.villagetheatre.org.
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