November 1 NYC Bring Back Birdie Concert Restores Two Cut Songs

Cabaret & Concert News   November 1 NYC Bring Back Birdie Concert Restores Two Cut Songs
 
The short-lived 1981 Strouse & Adams sequel to Bye Bye Birdie gets a second chance.
Chita Rivera
Chita Rivera and Donald O'Connor in Bring Back Birdie Martha Swope

The November 1 New York concert performance of the score to Bring Back Birdie, the short-lived musical sequel to the blockbuster Bye Bye Birdie, will restore two songs cut from the score before its original four-performance 1981 run on Broadway.

The production is also promising to restore two comedy songs that were cut during the show’s original previews. Co-producer Steven Carl McCasland told Playbill , “Birdie has gotten very out of shape over the last 20 years, and the songs are about getting him back in shape, and his feelings about now being overweight.”

Lenora Nemetz will play the role of Rose (the role originated by Chita Rivera in both Bye Bye Birdie and Bring Back Birdie) in the 7 PM concert at Feinstein’s/54 Below supper club. Nemetz, who has extensive experience on Broadway and the road, previously played Rose in a 1991 tour of Bye Bye Birdie.

Michael Walters (Paper Mill Playhouse’s The Honeymooners) appears as as Albert Peterson; Loni Ackerman (Evita, Cats, George M!) plays his overbearing mother, Mae; and Tom Schario (Nice Work If You Can Get It national tour) plays the title role of Conrad Birdie.

Among new roles added to the sequel: Alexa Shae Niziak plays Jenny Peterson, the rebellious teenage daughter of Albert and Rose, Arbender Robinson plays Mtobe, and Cleve Asbury plays Mr. Marshall. Also announced for the cast: Lucas Schultz, Kristen Gehling, Julia DeSimone, Mildred Gil, Kelly Reader, Thomas Dieter, Phoenix Goodman, Shelby Anderson, and Tim Valentine.

Bring Back Birdie ran four performances on Broadway in 1981, despite the presence of Rivera again taking the leading role of Rose, and Donald O’Connor replacing Dick Van Dyke as Albert. Michael Stewart’s book reveals what happened to the Petersons and Conrad Birdie two decades after the action of the first show. When heartthrob rock ’n’ roller Conrad Birdie came back from Vietnam, he disappeared for more than 20 years. But now he’s back… for one night only.

Strouse has been finding a home for some of his “lost” scores at Feinstein”s/54 Below. His one-performance A Broadway Musical was given a concert staging there on July 16. Second Act is planning to mount a concert version of Strouse & Adams’ little-known first musical, A Pound in Your Pocket, on January 24, 2018.

Bring Back Birdieis being presented as part of cabaret’s Second Act Series, produced by McCasland and James Horan. Each evening revisits a short-lived musical, highlighting its neglected score and inviting audiences to rediscover a forgotten gem. Previous evenings have included Shelter (starring Jon Cryer); 70, Girls, 70; Henry, Sweet Henry; The Fix; Onward Victoria; Charlie and Algernon; and Eating Raoul.

Tickets to Bring Back Birdie, which cost $35–$75 plus a food/beverage minimum of $25, can be ordered by clicking here.

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