OFFBEAT: Hammond grad nets Tippi Hedren for return 'Birds' stage visit

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-07-31T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Hammond grad nets Tippi Hedren for return 'Birds' stage visitBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Hammond High School grad David Cerda has been friends with actress Tippi Hedren ever since she caught his stage spoof of her famed 1963 Hitchcock flick "The Birds," when he first staged it in 2003.

Not only is it the 10-year anniversary since Cerda first perched this funny feathered film parody in the Windy City, but it's also the 50th Anniversary of this favorite film from Alfred Hitchcock.

Cerda's Hell in a Handbag Productions is presenting the return of "The Birds," written by Cerda and Pauline Pang and based on a screenplay by Evan Hunter. It's being directed by Cerda teamed with Jeffery Shields and once again staged at The Coach House at Berger Park, 6205 N. Sheridan Rd. at the intersection of Granville in Chicago.

It starts previews Aug. 8, then opens Aug. 11 and runs until Sept. 15 with performances Thursday through Sunday.

Hedren has once again agreed to "fly" in to catch a performance and Cerda has dreamed up some fun events connected with her appearance. Hedren will attend a special benefit performance of "The Birds" on Saturday, Sept. 7. It includes a pre-show reception with Tippi at 6 p.m. before the stage show, which will include a special "walk-on" cameo by Tippi and a special post show talk and Q&A session with the actress following the performance. Tickets are $150.

Cerda is also offering what he bills as: "Win a Chance of a Lifetime to Share the Stage with Tippi Hedren." It's an online bidding auction for a walk-on role with the legendary Hitchcock blonde and animal activist. The bidding starts at $400 and proceeds benefit The ROAR Foundation/Shambala Preserve created by Hedren. Go to for details.

For the play's run, all showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $19 to $35. For reservations, call (800) 838-3006 or go to Brown Paper Tickets online at

Originally produced under Sweetback Productions, Cerda's imaginative telling of "The Birds" is not just a ridiculously funny parody of the classic Hitchcock film, but a look inside the mind of then Hollywood newcomer Hedren, for this staging, guided by author and American social critic Camille Paglia, with a touch of David Lynch thrown in for good measure.

Hitchcock hand-picked her to star in his much anticipated follow-up to his smash hit film "Psycho."

"The Birds" tells the tale of Melanie Daniels, the role played by Hedren, a blonde socialite who decides to pursue the very dashing bachelor/lawyer Mitchell Brenner (who was played by Rod Taylor) after a chance meeting in a pet shop. Melanie follows Mitch to Bodega Bay, a sleepy seaside town near San Francisco. Her arrival marks the beginning of a series of bird attacks on the town, with movie history being made.

Cerda has cast newcomer Catherine McCafferty for the role of Tippi/Melanie, with fellow new face Michael John Lea as the lawyer love interest. Cerda is once again playing the funny send-up of the teacher role Annie Hayworth, who was portrayed in the film by late, legendary Suzanne Pleshette. Also featured in the cast are Handbag ensemble members Ed Jones in the mother role of Lydia, played by the late, great Jessica Tandy and Alex Grelle sporting pigtails as "little Cathy," played in the movie by Veronica Cartwright.

Hell in a Handbag Company is dedicated to the preservation, exploration, and celebration of works ingrained in the realm of popular culture via theatrical productions through parody, music, and homage and is a 501(c)(3) Not for Profit Corporation.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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