Birder Studio a Building Block for Bye Bye Birdie

Birder Studio a Building Block for Bye Bye Birdie

Adison Karbon & Gioia Cumicek, Staff Writers, Advanced Journalism

Many of the students participating in Bye Bye Birdie this year are not new to acting. In fact, some of these students have spent many years with Birder Studio of Performing Arts in West De Pere whose mission is to “instill confidence, creativity and discipline in students of all ages in the performing arts.”

From stage presence to confidence these actors and actresses bring their skills to Notre Dame’s stage in a variety of ways.

Abby Meyer, who is cast as Mrs. McAfee, has been involved in Birder Studio productions for 12 years. During her time there, she learned “common stage techniques, as well as the basics in speech and music.”

“Practice at Birder has contributed a lot to my memorization skills,” said Meyer, who cited a few differences between Birder and NDA.  For example, the size of the auditorium at NDA is larger and is not a “thrust stage theatre” where the audience is on three of the four sides of the stage like Birder.

Ellen Meeuwsen, cast as Gloria Rasputin and a part of the teen chorus, has been a part of Birder for six years. Through her practice there, Meeuwsen has had many different leadership opportunities, such as co-choreographing a dance number with some of her friends.

Meeuwsen has noticed a major similarity between Birder and NDA, primarily the supportive people she has worked with so far. Both theater groups have helped her grow and learn as a performer. Broadway is her ultimate goal.

“I literally live and breathe musical theater. My mom actually says the musical theater is how I get my oxygen,” said Meeuwsen.

Mattea Vecera, has been involved with Birder for three and half years. As a result of her hard work, she has been cast as Ursula Merkle, Kim’s best friend.

“Birder taught me a lot of things, the main one being stage presence,” said Vecera. When she first started, she loved to sing, but was “very shy in front of a crowd.”

“Private voice lessons helped me to lessen that fear and just give it all I’ve got,” said Vercera. In her future, she doesn’t want to pursue a career in musical theatre, but she definitely wants to continue acting as a side job. Her dream has always been to act in movies or television, and she hopes to one day get that opportunity.

Elizabeth Hoeppner, who plays Kim MacAfee, has been with Birder for 13 years. She believes both NDA and Birder “give students the opportunity to learn on the stage.”

She said, “One important thing that the stages have in common is dedication, from both the students and the directors.” She learned many things through Birder including how to “think through the eyes of my character,” stage presence, and how to get over stage fright.

In her future, due to her love for science and musical theatre, she plans on following the pre-medical track and minoring in musical theatre so she can also keep that in her life.

When Bye Bye Birdie takes the stage at Notre Dame, much of the show’s success will be the by-product of the Birder Studio of Performing Arts.

Birdie? Birder?  Maybe there’s a connection of sorts!