This weekend's production of "Bye Bye Birdie" will be a swan song for the seniors in Bradley High School's theater program.

This weekend's production of "Bye Bye Birdie" will be a swan song for the seniors in Bradley High School's theater program.

"This is really a display of those seniors' talents," said Matt Wolfe, who is co-directing the musical comedy. "This senior class, most of them came in as sophomores with a year at Darby, and they began with a theater that is just beginning. We've stepped it up from 'Oklahoma!' last year. Since this is our third year, our third musical, every year we're trying to push the envelope a little bit more with what we do vocally and technically.

"They've grown tremendously as actors and people," Wolfe said of the seniors. "They're adults moving into the world. Some of them are continuing in theater. Others, this is a hobby they found along the way."

The seniors, along with the underclassmen, had a bit of a challenge relating to the 1950s period in which "Birdie" is set, Wolfe said. However, one bit of common ground was the phenomenon of teen idols, which is as strong today with "American Idol" and the like as it was with Elvis Presley almost 60 years ago.

"Bye Bye Birdie," by Lee Adams, Michael Stewart and Charles Strouse, is about an Elvis-like rock star named Conrad Birdie who is drafted into the Army. Birdie's handlers, Albert Peterson and Rosie Alvarez, put him on television to promote a song called "One Last Kiss." At the end of the song, Birdie is to kiss a fan, Kim MacAfee from Sweet Apple, Ohio.

In addition to "One Last Kiss," the musical is known for the songs, "How Lovely To Be a Woman," "The Telephone Hour" and "Kids."

The cast includes Jake Fenzl (Conrad), Andrea Mellum (Kim), Casey Hribar (Rosie), Joey Logan (Albert), Briana Biffath, Conor Breen, John Campbell II, Shane Cornell, Gretchen Rutz, Sarah Smith and more than 100 ensemble, crew members and musicians.

Wolfe said auditions were in mid-February, and the students have been working ever since.

Although it is a bit dated, Wolfe said, the musical will stay true to the script. However, instead of trying to be authentic in look, Wolfe said, this production of "Birdie" will show New York in monochromatic colors, but when it's in Sweet Apple, the colors will be bold.

"Bye Bye Birdie" will be staged at 7 p.m. April 20 and at 2 and 7 p.m. April 21 in Bradley's Performing Arts Center. The two-act musical lasts more than 2 hours (including intermission) and is suitable for children fourth grade and up. Tickets cost $10 or $5 for students with ID. For more information, visit www. bradleytheater.org.