Young Actors Pull off an Old Classic

“Better than what I expected it to be” is how FAU student Keshia Carswell described Bye Bye Birdie, the latest play presented by the FAU theatre department. The play is a 1950’s satire on American society. Some of you may remember the movie Win a Date with Tad Hamilton which is a modern take on this classic. The theater department decided not to update the play, but instead kept all the original ideas and language intact. At first I was worried that the ideas and humor might be lost with a new generation. But I quickly realized, that like most classics, some concepts will always be true. Dillon Bannis, an FAU senior majoring in psycho-biology agreed that the 1950’s concepts “still work” and “that’s what makes the play so good”. Although there were a few times I noticed many older people laughing at jokes that went right over my head, most of the humor and main ideas were still there.Perhaps the theater department should have rethought some of the racial language that was used. There was more racial stereotyping in this play than in an episode of Saturday Night Live. Samantha Kessler a senior at FAU who happens to be part Puerto Rican “There were times I felt uncomfortable, but I still laughed because it was really funny, it’s a part of our history so I can’t be upset.” The cast, which was a mix between professional actors and grad students, performed almost flawlessly. I was shocked when Bruce Linser, one of the lead actors, informed me after the show that “We haven’t rehearsed the show in over a week” Linser, played the role of Albert Peterson, a bumbling insecure mamma’s boy who by the end of the play morphed into quite the stud after forcing his on stage mother onto a train that was leaving town. I found it a little ironic when after the show Linser told me that his real mother was waiting for him in the audience. The large amount of physical movement required by the actors was very impressive. I asked Linser if any of the actors got hurt during the rehearsals “Originally there was a scene in which I, along with other actors, was supposed to be rolling around on the floor. My chiropractor told me I couldn’t continue to do that scene, so we changed it up” All the sacrifices paid off, the dancing and movement scenes were perfect. There were a few actors whose talent really stood out. Bruce Linser and Rebecca Simon stole the show. They had a chemistry that the audience absolutely picked up on. “She’s great” says Linser about Simon “One thing I always admire about actresses is access ability and she has it. Great eye contact, she’s wonderful to play off of.” With such a great play going on right here on campus, one would think the audience would be nothing but FAU students. On the contrary, just as with the FAU plays in the past, the audience was anyone and everyone except FAU students. At $16.00 a ticket it’s not very surprising. Dillon Bannis ” I heard about the play on southflorida.com and I assumed that tickets would be free for FAU students, I was upset when I showed up to find that I had to pay so much money.” When I asked why he thought there weren’t more FAU students at the play he replied “That’s the reason right there, the prices, we’re on a college budget here.” “I would have invited more of my friends, but I knew they wouldn’t want to pay the high prices” says Kessler. I wish the theater department would find a way to make tickets more affordable to FAU students. The play is run by the FAU theater department and it’s on FAU campus and yet FAU students are being ostracized from these brilliant events. We can’t become a traditional college campus until we boost student activities.