Bridgeport High School Production of "Leader of the Pack" Opens Thursday, Runs Through Sunday
Bridgeport High School productions are always a treat and this upcoming show will draw applause from enthusiastic audience members.
Starring Bekah James as Ellie Greenwich – whose “doo-wop” sounds climbed the pop charts in the 1960s – the jukebox musical “Leader of the Pack” comes to the BHS Auditorium March 23-26.
Featuring famed show tunes, “Be My Baby,” “Do Wah Diddy,” “Hanky Panky” and, of course, the title song, the show – which is directed by Gregg Brown - takes a look into the songwriter’s professional triumphs and personal misfortunes.
“It’s just pure fun. It’s 90 percent music and if you like early ‘60s music and dancing, it will almost feel like a concert,” said BHS Theater Teacher Jerod St. Martin Brown. “The kids love it and really can get into a time period of pop songs that I think everybody enjoys.”
Noah Hall and Derek Hess will, in different shows, play the role of Jeff Barry.
“He is Ellie Greenwich’s lover, husband and eventually ex-husband,” Hall said.
The role at hand is the flipside of his youthful, comic character Barfee in the recent BHS production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."
“I played a younger kid – like in the sixth grade – and now I play Jeff Barry, who is in his 20s or 30s and he’s an ‘out there’ guy who wants to produce huge songs with Ellie,” Hall said. “He wants to marry her and start a family, but what ends up happening is they have a fight. She doesn’t want to settle down and have a family and Jeff wants to continue on with his life. He ends up losing his love for her and they end up splitting and getting a divorce. It’s just a whirlwind.”
While alternating in the role of Jeff, Hall and Hess will also alternate in some minor show roles and voiceovers.
Douglas Soule has been cast in the role of music producer, Gus Sharkey, who he says is similar to his character – Leaf Coneybear- in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
In fact, it’s the role which Soule had his eye on when he auditioned for the show last weekend.
“(Gus) is a very quirky person and he’s very energetic and fidgety,” Soule said. “Those are the kind of characters I seem to play pretty well.”
As important to any show as learning lines is good role playing, Soule said. It’s a process which involves the actor’s immersion into the character through the reading of scripts – and other materials - and applying his overall theater knowledge to that character.
“It’s really the most difficult part, especially since most characters in this show are based off real-life characters,” he said.
Gus Sharkey is based on the real-life Phil Spector, said Soule, who has been watching old YouTube videos about him so he can do a quality job with his portrayal.
Soule said he’s pretty excited to bring “Leader of the Pack” to BHS.
“I love it as a show,” he said. “It has a lot of musical magic in it. It all flows together very well; a meeting of upbeat music and ‘ready to take on the world’ attitude. The energy of the show invigorates me.”
This isn’t the first time the show has come to the BHS stage. Hall said the school presented “Leader of the Back” back in 2007. He admits that, at first, he wasn’t real thrilled about the show selection, but it is growing on him.
Actors of all grade levels are featured the show. In fact, because there wasn’t a high enough level of participation among senior actors, there is no “senior play” this year, St. Martin Brown said.
The cast list of “Leader of the Pack” is below.
Darlene Love - Erica Cottrill
Annie Golden - Mackenzie Steele
Ellie Greenwich - Bekah James
Shelley - Shelby Whiteman
Mickey - Caroline Fulks
Pattie - Bailey King
Sarah - Claire Lohmann
Jeff Barry - Noah Hall/ Derek Hess
Gus Sharkey - Doug Soule
Rosie (Ellie’s Mother) - Heather Bokey
Keith - Kamden Dulaney
Peter - Benson Bassell
Lon - Arthur Piednoel
Dance Couple - Claire Lohmann and Kamden Dulaney
Waiter - Callia Byard
Ensemble - Michaela Hutcheson, Heather Bokey, Rylee Chamberlain Adelina Hill, Madyia McCullough, Neyha Naveed, Corey Stephens, Micah Kisner
“Leader of the Pack” will be performed 7:30 p.m. March 23, 24 and 25 and 2 p.m. March 26. All tickets are $10. Call 304-842-6785 to order tickets. Tickets will also be available at the door.
Editor's Note: Photos of "Leader of the Pack" rehearsals are compliments of BHS Theatre.