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South Lewis Central presents ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ starting tonight


TURIN — “Bye Bye Birdie” lead Dominic Sabatini, a South Lewis Central School senior, chose his final year to pursue singing in a high school musical.

“I didn’t plan on being a lead,” confessed the 18-year-old. “My brother did plays and he was very good at it. He told me to get into character at auditions and I did, and I think I tried too hard because they gave me the character that I went for.”

Mr. Sabatini’s brother is Michael Sabatini, who graduated in 2012. He was the lead in several shows, including “Seussical the Musical” and “The Brain from Planet X.”

Mr. Sabatini said he auditioned for the show after making a deal with director Cassandra Gronowski, which would allow him to perform a senior solo.

In previous years Mr. Sabatini dedicated his time to sports like track and field, wrestling and soccer. He had wanted only a small role. But now he will play Conrad Birdie in the school’s production of “Bye Bye Birdie” tonight through Saturday.

“Conrad’s a movie star and, before he goes into the Army, his manager sets him up to kiss a small-town girl, Kim,” explained Mr. Sabatini.

The comedy brings Birdie, manager Albert Peterson and Albert’s love interest/secretary, Rosie Alvarez, to Sweet Apple, Ohio, where Birdie’s eccentric ways have their small-town lives turned upside down. Parents turn against teenagers and vice versa.

Rounding out the main cast are Mariah Ward as Kim MacAfee, Chelsey Moore as Rosie and Leif Ostrum as Albert. Mr. Ostrum has the love of musicals in his blood. His father, Peter Ostrum, played Charlie Bucket in the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

“This is one of the funniest shows I’ve done so far,” said Mr. Ostrum, who has taken part in musicals at South Lewis since he was a sixth-grader and played in “Annie.”

“Albert, he’s really a mama’s boy, so that’s where Mary comes in and she plays my mother. Then I have a secretary, Rose, who I’ve worked with for eight years and I guess we’re boyfriend and girlfriend,” said the 16-year-old. “He’s been held back by his mother from asking her (to marry him).”

“Rosie is sick and tired of putting up with Albert and his mother, She wants to break the mold and she’s given him an ultimatum that he has to choose between her and his mother,” said Miss Moore. Her rival for Albert’s attention is portrayed by Mary Faduski, who arrives in Kim’s hometown to cause trouble for the lovers.

Kim, a high school student and head of the Conrad Birdie fanclub, has just started going steady with Hugo Peabody (Kevin Beltowski). Conrad’s arrival on set causes a disruption in their relationship.

As of an early dress rehearsal March 15, the there were still a few issues the actors had to work out.

“We started in January ... and this year has been harder than others because we’ve missed so many days for snow days and canceled after school activities,” said Mr. Ostrum.

“We have lost a lot of rehearsal time with weather, probably two weeks worth. But we are pulling it together and its going to be a great show,” added Miss Moore.

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