Thank you to every student who auditioned for Eastborough High School’s production of Bye Bye Birdie! I see each musical as an amazing opportunity to turn developing young talent into the bright stars of tomorrow. Thanks to the literally hundreds of students who turned up at auditions this year in a desperate attempt to impress me, I felt like a kid in a candy store! As such, I’d like to explain some of my casting choices so you’ll all stop ruining this for me with your whiney emails.
Fred Ansome, I knew I wanted you for the lead role of neurotic mama’s boy Albert when I first saw you step out on stage in that teen production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show as Dr. Frank N. Furter last summer. While some might say that playing a cross-dressing alien made famous by Tim Curry does not indicate you’ll be a good fit for the aforementioned mama’s boy made famous by Dick Van Dyke, it’s a fool’s errand I’m willing to run. Even though Mr. Ryan has agreed to serve as music director again, and said this would likely be more difficult than when he directed your vocals as King Arthur in Spamalot or Bobby in Company, I know you both understand that I’m the director, and I get what I want.
Beatrix Thurman, in my defense, I only precast you as Rosie because I see so much of myself in you, and I want to live vicariously through your successes. Your audition was just a formality. From the moment I saw you as Gretl in that community theater production of The Sound of Music, I knew that I could take advantage of your youth to mold you into the perfect future Juilliard alumni that I never was.
Ian Wessel, even though you’re a senior with no prior musical theater experience, I badgered you into auditioning because I loved the idea of having you play the Elvis-like Conrad Birdie, and I’ve always thought dudes named “Ian” were cool. The fact that I have a boyfriend named Ian is simply a happy accident made possible by a very conscious decision. While your bushy blond hair, twangy voice, and hipster glasses are more Buddy Holly than Conrad Birdie, I don’t really care, because I cast you in this role as an excuse to hang out with you and prove to you that I’m cool.
And to finally address the elephant in the room, I know that many of you are upset with me for casting senior Jeremy Michaels in an ensemble role for the fourth year in a row, even though his audition prep consistently blows everyone else’s out of the water. Even I admit he outdid himself this year between watching the feature film starring Ann-Margret, sitting alone at lunch to pore over the script, and spending a week at Elvis Impersonation Camp.
It definitely hasn’t been easy for him, and I will concede that his audition was surprisingly good this year, but consider what this decision has meant from my end. Almost all of you have been bullying me with incessant and vicious emails that say things like, “He deserves his chance to shine!,” “It’s evil to give him the cold shoulder!,” and “It’s bordering on abusive to ignore how much he’s improved since freshman year,” etc. Just try harder next year, Jeremy, or change your name to “Ian.” Maybe then I’ll consider helping you out with your Emerson audition.
To the many who say that this casting will drag down the overall quality of the show, my simple answer to this is that I don’t have time to worry about quality when I’m busy getting a masochistic pleasure out of having a packed auditorium coming to see me entertain only myself two weekends in a row! Let’s be honest, if I cast everyone based on who was most fitting for the role, that would be super boring. Terence Fletcher in Whiplash ain’t got shit on me.