November 1, 2023

MSM Student Spotlight:
Meet Niko Charney, a featured performer in MSM Musical Theatre’s production of Bye Bye Birdie NOV 3–5

Niko Charney (BM ’25) from Shelton, Connecticut, is a junior MSM Musical Theatre major studying with Bob Stillman. Niko plays Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie, “a kindhearted ‘Mamma’s boy’ who wants to make everyone happy, often to a fault,” says Niko.

Niko speaks with us about the production, what it’s like performing his role, and about his time at MSM so far.

Don’t miss Niko on stage in Bye Bye Birdie NOV 3–5 in Neidorff-Karpati Hall!


Niko‘s performance credits at MSM include Valentino’s Tango (Fall 2022) and The Secret life of the American Musical (Spring 2023).

In addition to being involved in musical theatre, Niko is very active in hearing loss advocacy in the music community and has his own blog, where he shares about his journey with hearing loss.

MSM Musical Theatre
Bye Bye Birdie

NOV 3 – NOV 5 
7:30 PM

Tickets required
$30 adults, $15 non-MSM students and seniors

Neidorff-Karpati Hall 

Why should people come and see Bye Bye Birdie?

Niko: Throughout my studies here at MSM, one thing that comes up often are revivals of shows. We discuss how no one wants to see a replica or recreation of something that has already been done. The point of doing older works is to bring a fresh take to a timeless piece.

People should come see this Bye Bye Birdie production because the show is a classic in the musical theatre canon. It has a genius and efficient score by Charles Strouse, with a witty book and lyrics by Michael Addams and with lyrics also by Lee Adams. I think we’ve been able to find modern takes on a piece of musical theatre history, while still maintaining its true message. The show has something for everyone, even sixty three years later!

What has it been like working with Katie Spelman and David Loud?

Niko: Getting to work with Katie Spelman and David Loud in the same room has been the greatest privilege. It’s so exiting to watch the both of them collaborate and even more to include the cast in the collaborative process. When we get into the rehearsal room, it is always about what story we tell as a whole, not about a narrow, set-in-stone vision.

It’s always great when the creative team uses the actors input throughout the process, and that’s exactly what happens in the room with Katie Spelman and David Loud. With all of this combined, great work is bound to happen in addition to giggles, and an abundance of positive energy.

Tell us about your role in this show!

Niko: In Bye Bye Birdie, I play Albert Peterson, a kindhearted Mamma’s boy who wants to make everyone happy, often times, to a fault. Through my time getting to work on Albert, I have found pieces of myself in the character as well as certain elements that I struggled to relate to. Up until now, being the character man I am, I have mainly only played comedic relief. So I initially found it a bit difficult to play the “love interest”, but if there is one thing MSM has taught me, it is that you have to move outside your comfort zone in order to grow. And that’s just what I’ve been able to do, albeit hard, I have challenged myself to play someone different than I often do, and it has taught me so much about who I am and the potential I have in terms of my ability to play a wide array of characters.


What’s your most memorable MSM memory so far?

Niko: I would have to say it has been working on this show. I’ve really enjoyed every second of this process and truly feel that the two years of training I’ve had prior to this have helped me immensely.

This creative process has been just the right balance of a good uncertainty, growth, and unforgettable memories. The entire cast and creative team for Bye Bye Birdie have been so supportive of each other as we navigate this piece, and the laughs and moments of triumph have been more than exquisite.

What piece of advice do you have for anybody interested in pursuing MT at MSM?

Niko: My biggest piece of advice to anyone interested pursuing MT here at MSM is for you to be YOU. I can truly and honestly say that my teachers and peers here at MSM embrace me for me, and for being the unique individual artist I am. So when it comes to the immense stress or worry over what song to sing for an audition or what monologue to do, chose whatever you do best and enjoy doing, don’t worry if something is overdone or if someone else you know is doing it too. At the end of the day as long as you enjoy the art you create, it is bound to be magical. There is only one you to ever exist, so no one can ever create what you can. I know my professors would agree.

“My biggest piece of advice to anyone interested pursuing MT here at MSM is for you to be YOU.”

What song from Bye Bye Birdie would you add to the soundtrack of your life?

Niko: While I may be biased because it’s my song, I have to say it would be Put On a Happy Face. Every time I get the opportunity to sing this masterpiece in rehearsal it literally brings a smile to my face. Between its cleverly crafted lyrics and its melody that makes you want to smile from ear to ear, I am reminded every night that “grey skies are gonna clear up” so “spread sunshine, all over the place” and “just Put on a Happy Face.”

MSM Musical Theatre

Bye Bye Birdie

7:30 PM

1 PM & 7:30

1 PM

Book and Lyrics by Michael Stewart
Lyrics by Lee Adams 
Music by Charles Strouse

Katie Spelman, Director and Choreographer
David Loud, Music Director

Tickets required
$30 adults, $15 non-MSM students and seniors

Neidorff-Karpati Hall 
130 Claremont Avenue
New York, New York 10027

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