Opening Doors Theatre Company is resurrecting the 1981 Broadway musical in Manhattan. This is the first of three 2006-07 productions in Opening Doors' "Closing Notice" concert series at The Duplex, 61 Christopher Street, in Greenwich Village.
The new concert production is produced by Suzanne Adams (artistic director of Opening Doors), directed by Hector Coris with musical direction by Andrew Long. Steven Bednasz will serve as assistant musical director and choreography will be by Christine Schwalenberg. The pianist is Jason Sirois.
Cast in the show are Dana Baráthy, Doug Chitel, Desiree Davar, Denise DeMirjian, Scott McLean Harrison, Blayne Levin, Maria Maloney, David Perlman, Jeff Pierce, Marc Tumminelli and Juson Williams.
Bring Back Birdie — with songs by composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Lee Adams, and a book by Michael Stewart — was the bomb sequel to the 1960 hit Bye Bye Birdie, and took a look at songwriter Albert and wife Rosie 20 years after their adventures with the Elvis-like Conrad Birdie.
Composer Charles Strouse is expected to attend the Tuesday performance. Evan Seplow, who played Albert Jr. in 1981, will also be there. The sequel's Conrad, Marcel Forestieri, will also attend, and will help with a raffle at the top of the shows Tuesday and Wednesday. Bring Back Birdie starred Donald O'Connor as Albert, Maria Karnilova as his mama Mae, Maurice Hines as a detective and Chita Rivera, reprising her role as Rosie (she was Tony nominated for it). The plot involved the search for the long-missing Birdie (for an appearance on The Grammy Awards), with subplots about Albert and Rosie's kids — including a detour into a religious cult, prompting a satiric song called "Inner Peace."
Even Chita Rivera admitted in her recent Broadway revue that Bring Back Birdie was nobody's finest hour. Nevertheless, a cast album was recorded, and it's packed with Strouse and Adams songs that showed a glimmer of what they have been known for since 1960 — plucky show tunes.
The original 1981 production played 34 previews and ran for four performances at the Martin Beck Theatre.
Opening Doors Theatre Company is a New York City-based, non-profit performing arts ensemble "committed to developing an eclectic mix of programming through the artistic collaboration of performers as well as playwrights, composers, directors and designers, and providing opportunities for new talent to be seen and heard."
The "Closing Notice" concert series is a trio of "living cast album" presentations (minus the libretto) focusing on classic musicals that were either dubbed as flops, had short commercial runs or "most likely will never be produced again." ODTC "respectfully presents these scores with the understanding that — unsuccessful or not — the creators poured their craft, guts and love into the work and they deserve to be heard once again — live on stage."
The songs will be linked with "liner notes"-like narration and parts of the original book.
The next two productions in the season are It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman! (1966) by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (March 2007) and a special 50th anniversary production of 1957's Whoop-Up by Moose Charlap and Norman Gimbel (June 2007).
Tickets are $20 plus a two-drink minimum. Members of AEA, MAC and Cabaret Hotline Online pay only a $15 plus two-drink minimum at the door.
For reservations, call (212) 255-5438 after 4 PM daily or via e-mail reservations@ODTConline.org. For more information, visit www.theduplex.com.
For more information, visit www.ODTConline.org.