‘Bye, bye’ for beloved producer at IS 187

We love you, Conrad: Matthew Kessler, who played Conrad Birdie in IS 187’s production of “Bye, Bye, Birdie,” gets mobbed by his adoring fans.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Students of IS 187’s Drama Club took to the stage this past weekend and sang their hearts out when they put on a performance of the musical “Bye, Bye, Birdie” as a moving tribute to departing club producer Lynne Ferrier.

The school’s Builder’s Club, the student-run offshoot of the Ben-Bay Kiwanis Club that’s responsible for sponsoring the Dyker Heights school’s yearly plays, chose to do “Bye, Bye Birdie” because it was Ferrier’s favorite.

“We wanted to make her happy,” said director Sue Huizinga, who is also president of the Narrows Community Theater.

Ferrier is stepping down as producer after 15 years of running the Drama Club that she helped found, though she will continue to teach math and economics at the school.

The production included 120 students, 76 of them actors with lines to memorize. Auditions for parts both on stage and behind the curtain were open to all students at the school.

“You should always give somebody something to do who really wants to be there,” said Huizinga, who thought it was important that all students have the opportunity to participate.”

Based on the Army’s drafting of Elvis Presley, the 1960 Broadway musical and 1963 film were comedies about Kim MacAfee, a small-town Ohio girl who is given a one-in-a-million chance to kiss rock ‘n’ roll heartthrob Conrad Birdie before he joins the military, much to the chagrin of her boyfriend Hugo Peabody.

Choreographer Christina Moore — herself a graduate of the school and now a senior at Wagner College — said the children took the time to understand the material and performed it with “grace and class.”

“A lot of them went home, watched the movie, and did their research,” she said. “It’s really one of those timeless shows — it’s the pandemonium of the teenage heartthrob. It’s sort of like how we have Justin Bieber today.”

Ferrier says the production would have been impossible without the help of numerous teachers and parents at IS 187 and believes it’s vital that the program continue even after she leaves.

“We’re using the arts in schools, and this is something where you have students, singing, dancing, learning monologues, building sets — using every part of the arts. And it really is the highlight of their middle school career.”

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