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A bittersweet return to the stage

--- Lifelong Haylofter returns to perform in “Bye Bye Birdie” June 28-July 15

Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

(Published June 20, 2007, 2:15 p.m.)

Ann Phillips grew up on the stage of the Malt House Theater as part of the Haylofters Inc. theater group. Her parents, Dorothy and Jack Phillips, stopped for rehearsal on this stage before leaving to marry. And she made her acting debut there at the tender age of 3 in “Grimms’ Fairytales.”

“I was probably a 3 or something,” she said of her first-ever performance.

Her grandfather was a Haylofter before her parents, and her brothers and sister were also mainstays on the stage while growing up, making it a three-generation tradition.

“All four of us have been diapered on this stage,” she said. “We grew up there. It’s part of who we are.

“Mom was the president of the group but never ever got on stage. Dad was the showman.”

Phillips is eternally thankful for the way her parents raised her, her sister and two brothers.

“It kept our family close,” she said. “The best part is that as much as my parents encouraged us, they were so the opposite of stage parents. They let us make our own mistakes and were never at auditions.

“We had the best of both worlds.”

For a 10-year run Phillips didn’t miss a show before going off to college.

“I either acted, directed or produced,” she said. “I always had some role.”

Now an English teacher at East Troy High School, Phillips has been pulled back to the stage where she grew up to play her ultimate role.

“This is my big coming-out party after a six-year hiatus,” she said. “I’m Albert’s mother, Mrs. Peterson. It’s one of my all-time favorite, must-do roles I’ve always wanted to do someday.”

Making it an even more meaningful event, this will be Phillips’ first performance since the death of her father last year.

“It’s kind of hard because he was always in the first row. I could always hear him laughing. It will be a kind of sad thing not having him there.”

But Phillips will make it the best performance possible, confident that he’ll be right there in the first row in spirit, glowing with pride as his daughter performs the role of her dreams.

Bye Bye Birdie

The Haylofters are the oldest continuous theater group is the state and will keep their reputation solid by performing “Bye, Bye Birdie” June 28-July 15.

Through music and comedy the story, set in 1958, spoofs the time Elvis was drafted, much to the dismay of the nation’s teens, especially the girls.

Conrad Birdie is the teen idol who is heading off to defend his country. His manager, Albert Peterson, and girlfriend Rose Alvarez, write a special song for Conrad to sing on national television, just before he kisses a lucky teenage girl chosen specifically for the event (Kim MacAfee of Sweet Apple, Ohio, which is thrown into complete chaos).

To further complicate the situation, Albert’s meddling mother Mae and other memorable characters add to the hilarity that ensues as Conrad turns the sleepy town upside down.

“I’m amazed at the level of talent I have and the level of enthusiasm,” said Jenny Hoffman, director. “This is going to be a very upbeat, colorful, toe-tapping show.”

Musical favorites include “Put On A Happy Face,” “One Boy,” “How Lovely To Be A Woman,” “A Lot of Livin’ To Do” and many more.

“Bye Bye Birdie” will run June 28-July 15, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., at the Malt House Theater, 109 N. Main St., Burlington. Tickets are $12 and will be available at the Daily Brew, 557 Milwaukee Ave., Burlington. For more information, call 763-9873. Reservations will not be taken over the phone.

 

Cast
---Conrad Birdie–Eddie Lupella
---Albert Peterson–TC DeWitt
---Rose Alvarez–Briana Beatse
---Kim MacAfee–Lauren Dunn
---Mae–Ann Phillips
---Kim’s father–David Taylor
---Kim’s mother–Lenore Swoboda and Cathe Timmons
---Hugo–Nickolai Kapustin
---Randolph MacAfee–Eli King
---Ursula–Leah Nickolai
---Gloria Rasputin–Sierra Kane
---Deborah Sue–Rachel Oldenburg
---Alice–Dani Salas
---Nancy–Becky Paruszkiewicz
---Penelope–Melissa Paruszkiewicz
---Suzie–Katie Brosel
---Harvey Johnson–Bryce Clark
---Mayor/quartet member–Don Fresen
---Mayor’s wife–Laura Brandt
---Mrs. Merkle–Phyllis Hartwick
---Mr. Johnson–Patrick Timmons
---Maude, the bartender/quartet member–Kevin Burg
---Quartet members–Matt Timmons and Grady Mabson
---One Girl featured singer–Susy Thorngate
---Sad Girl singers–Katie Brosel and Sierra Kane
---Adult ensemble members–Scott Nelson, Tom Niccolai, Arlene Rodriguez, Buzz Romstad and Jillian Vanderpal
---Teen chorus members–Milo Armetta, Carson Beatse, Carrie Coppernoll, Peter Coppernoll, Will Hoffman, Aidan King, John Kobernick, Katlin Kobernick, Grady Mabson, Melissa Starker, Paul Taylor and Susy Thorngate

Crew
---Jenny Hoffman-director
---Leslie Hopkins-choreographer
---Kathy Stelzner Middleton-accompanist
---Sue Taylor-costumes
---Logan Bydalek, Dylan Epping and Nick Webster-lighting
---TC DeWitt and John Brosel-set design

IF YOU GO
---What: “Bye Bye Birdie.”
---Where: Malt House Theater, 109 N. Main St., Burlington.
---When: June 28-July 15, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and sundays at 2 p.m.
---Tickets: Tickets are $12 and will be available at the Daily Brew, 557 Milwaukee Ave., Burlington
---Info: For more information, call 763-9873. Reservations will not be taken over the phone.

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