MOUNT VERNON — MTVarts, a local nonprofit theatre organization, is bringing history to Knox County’s Memorial Building Theater by reviving Paul Lynde’s role of Harry MacAfee in “Bye Bye Birdie,” portrayed by actor Ian Fraser Ernsberger this July.
Lynde, a graduate of Mount Vernon High School, was cast as MacAfee in the Broadway production of “Bye Bye Birdie” in 1960, and then again in the film adaptation released in 1963. This role was arguably the most notable of his career.
“It’s an honor to be playing such an iconic character originally played by the larger-than-life Paul Lynde,” Ernsberger said.
Ernsberger said he will do his best to channel Lynde’s vibrant stage presence through his own performance.
“No one can be Paul Lynde,” Ernsberger said. “There was only one Paul Lynde, but to be able to put my own spin on (the character) he created, while still paying homage to him, is what’s so much fun for me. I hope I do the role the justice it deserves.”
Actress Annika Wolfe, who is playing the role of Kim MacAfee, Ernsberger’s onstage daughter, said she is also excited to be cast in “Bye Bye Birdie.”
“I was excited to find out that MTVarts would be putting on ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ this year because I’ve been a fan of Paul Lynde since I was 3 years old,” Wolfe said. “I would walk around the house quoting Templeton from ‘Charlotte’s Web’.”
Wolfe said she hopes to do her role justice, as a tribute to the original Broadway cast as well.
“I’m very grateful I’m getting the chance this summer to play a role as fun as Kim,” Wolfe said. “I’m hoping to make Kim’s onscreen dad proud!”
Rounding out the cast are Aaron Moreland (Albert Perterson), Amanda Mayville (Rosie Alvarez), Mark Fongheiser (Conrad Birdie), Megan Evans (Mrs. Doris MacAfee), Bastian Stoneburner (Randolph MacAfee), Susan Moreland (Mae Peterson), Andrew Ruckman (Hugo Peabody), Alex Diehl (Harvey Johnson), Fredi Bockover (Ursala Merkle), Mary Harris (Alice), Megan Bell (Deborah Sue), Leslie Bell (Helen), Emily Waters (Nancy), Maya McDonald (Margie), Lacey Blubaugh (Suzie), Rachel Rinehart (Penelope), Joe Bell (Mayor), Caroline Pletcher (Mayor’s Wife), Kerri Mahan (Mrs. Merkle), Kate Ernsberger (Gloria Rasputin), and Rodney Cheek (Maude).
Chorus members include Kennedy Aikey, Megan Campbell, Isabella Fontaine, Joselyn Bates, Madison Pisano, Elizabeth Day, Elle Pavao, Lacey Blubaugh, Luna Moreland, Lily Mayville, Caleb McNamara, Chelsea Olms, Leann Berg, Joshua Callahan-Foley, Mark Mahan, Nick Wheeler, Wayne Ellison, Daniel Barich, Deanna Hasty, Kyle Boucher, Abigail Miller, and Ben Moore.
Supporting the cast is Director Bruce Jacklin, Music Director Diane Dingler, Choreographers Katie Delozier and Ashleigh Zarley, Conductor Dane Heuchemer, Accompanist Corey Strinka, Costumer Debbie Hamrick, Wig Mistress Ruth Frady, Master Carpenter Joe Bell, and an extensive production/technical team including , Nick Wheeler, Ryan Severance, Bonnie Pickett, Rodney Cheek, Leah Miller, Megan Evans, Ian Ernsberger, Carrie Hyman, Janis Stone, Scott Swingle and Carrie Haver.
Show dates for “Bye Bye Birdie” are July 7-16 and tickets may be purchased online at www.MTVarts.com or at First- Knox National Bank.