It has been at least six years since Seymour High School’s choral department has sold out seats for a musical, but cast members hope to change that with their upcoming production of “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Opening night is Thursday with the curtain going up at 7:30 p.m. in the Earl D. Prout Auditorium. Tickets are $6 in advance and can be purchased in the main office or at the door the night of the show for $7. Performances also will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Students have been rehearsing nightly for four hours this week to get lines, song and dance numbers, lighting, sound and sets just right.

The show, a musical comedy set in 1958, was inspired by popular U.S. rock ‘n’ roll artist Elvis Presley and his draft notice into the Army. But instead of Elvis, the rock star is Conrad Birdie, played by junior J.C. Stuart.

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“I feel like this was the role I was born to play,” Stuart said. “It’s very fun having all these girls chase after me and to knock them over just by looking at them.”

Dressed in flashy silver and gold jumpsuits, Birdie is set to record and perform one last song as a publicity stunt before being deployed.

Stuart said he liked wearing all of the “funky” costumes.

“They’re very bright and shiny and make me the center of attention,” he said.

As part of Birdie’s publicity stunt, he also is choosing one lucky fan to kiss live on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” That girl is 15-year-old Kim MacAfee, played by senior Macie Fletcher.

Other principal actors in the show are senior Alex Lovins, playing Birdie’s agent and songwriter, Albert Peterson; senior Peyton Heyne playing Rose Alvarez, Albert’s secretary and sweetheart; junior Mara Luedeman as Ursula Merkle, friend and neighbor of MacAfee; and senior Grant Handloser as Hugo Peabody, MacAfee’s steady boyfriend.

Lovins already has been in two productions at SHS, “Legally Blonde” and “Working,” and wanted to be in one last show before he graduates this spring.

“I’ve always appreciated the music department here,” he said.

Putting together a musical production is never easy, though, and a lot of hard work goes into it, he added.

“It’s sometimes stressful, but in the end, putting on a great production is fun,” he said.

And the best part is working together with the other actors, singers and stage crew.

“We all have really great chemistry when on stage, and we help each other out,” he said.

Heyne said “Bye Bye Birdie” is a perfect way to showcase the talent of students at the school.

“People don’t realize how much work goes into a show,” she said.

She has been involved in musicals since her sixth-grade year when she was in a production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

When she was younger, she always looked up to the high school kids in the musicals, she said.

“Watching those kids perform when I was little made me want to do it, too,” she said.

All of the cast members tried out for parts, depending on if they wanted a major role with a lot of lines and singing or a minor role. Choral director Kyle Karum then chose students to fill the cast of characters.

Fletcher said she has worked hard to pull off the role of MacAfee.

“It’s a big role, and I hope I do it justice,” she said. “A lot goes into playing a 15-year-old girl.”

One of her favorite scenes is where she gets to perform onstage with the whole MacAfee family, including her mother, Doris, played by senior Nastya Yakovlyeva; her father, Harry, played by junior Bryse Colwell; and her younger brother, Randolph, played by sophomore Michael Hodge.

“That was one of the songs we really picked up together as a chorus, and it’s cool how it starts with a small group but then everybody ends up onstage and we’re all singing together, and that’s what it’s always been like being a part of the choral program here,” Fletcher said. “One person may have the lead role, but everybody is there to back them up. It’s not just about that one person.”

Simply put, the cast and crew have become a family.

For Fletcher, “Bye Bye Birdie” also is her last high school musical production.

“There will be tears,” she said. “That last show on Saturday, there will be so many tears, but it’s been a great run, and I’m really happy for all the friendships I’ve made.”

If you go

What: Seymour High School choral department performance of the musical “Bye Bye Birdie”

Where: Earl D. Prout Auditorium at Seymour High School

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Cost: Tickets are $6 if purchased in advance from the main office or $7 at the door the nights of the show

Principal cast: Albert Peterson, Alex Lovins; Rosie Alvarez, Peyton Heyne; Kim MacAfee, Macie Fletcher; Ursula Merkle, Mara Luedeman; Conrad Birdie, J.C. Stuart; Hugo Peabody, Grant Handloser; Doris MacAfee, Mastya Yakovlyeva; Harry MacAfee, Bryse Colwell; Randolph MacAfee, Michael Hodge; and Mae “Mamma” Peterson, Kylee Lewis

Director: Kyle Karum

Orchestra conductor: Kyle Lutes

Stage manager: Jami Nobbe

Student director: Elizabeth Reedy

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.