Producer Manny Kladitis Giving Birdie Its Wings in Bway-Bound Revival in 2004-05

News   Producer Manny Kladitis Giving Birdie Its Wings in Bway-Bound Revival in 2004-05
Bye Bye Birdie, the sweetly satiric 1960 musical that spoofed the pop-music world 40 years before Hairspray and launched the careers of songwriters Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, will get a Broadway-bound revival in late 2004.

Manny Kladitis, the respected general manager (National Actors Theatre, I Am My Own Wife) and producer (1995's Tony Award-nominated Hello, Dolly! revival), is putting the staging together with producing partners for a stop at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, prior to Broadway.

No casting, dates or creative team have been announced. City Center Encores! will also stage the show, which gave the world "Put on a Happy Face," in a concert version May 6-9 directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall. It could not be ascertained if the Encores! version might be a template for the new first-class full staging of the show (in the same way the recent Chicago and Wonderful Town revivals were born at Encores!).

The Encores! concerts are not designed to be a launchpad for productions, but rather to celebrate "great American musicals in concert."

Bye Bye Birdie has a book by the late Michael Stewart and a plot taken from the headlines of the day: An Elvis Presley-like pop singer has been drafted into the Army (as Presley was) and his manager-songwriter, Albert, plans a farewell show that will allow Albert to quit showbiz and settle down with his fiancee, Rosie. Albert's meddling mama, an all-American teen-age girl named Kim and the residents of Sweet Apple, Ohio, complicate matters.

In the original, Dick Van Dyke was Albert; Chita Rivera was Rosie; Paul Lynde was the quirky Mr. MacAfee, father of Kim MacAfee (played by Susan Watson); Dick Gautier was Conrad Birdie; and Kay Medford was Mrs. Peterson, Albert's doting mother. Gower Champion directed and choreographed the show, and a film version starring Ann-Margret was later produced. A TV movie musical version with new songs was seen in 1995 (with Marc Kudisch as Birdie, Vanessa Williams as Rosie and Jason Alexander as Albert). The added song, "Let's Settle Down," won the Emmy Award, and Albert's mother (Tyne Daly) got her own song: "A Mother Doesn't Matter Anymore." The last major national staging was a 1991 tour that starred Tommy Tune and Kudisch (and Tune got the new song, "A Giant Step").

Bye Bye Birdie opened April 14, 1960, and ran for 607 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre, winning the 1961 Tony Award for Best Musical, and Tonys for Featured Actor (Van Dyke), Producer (Edward Padula), Director, Choreographer and Author. The Best Score category had not yet been introduced in the Tonys, but Strouse and Adams won it by association with the "Best Musical" win.

The score's songs include "The Telephone Hour," "A Lot of Livin' to Do," "Baby, Talk to Me," "Kids!," "An English Teacher," "What Did I Ever See in Him?," "Rosie," "One Boy," "One Last Kiss," "How Lovely to be a Woman," "Hymn for a Sunday Evening" (the Ed Sullivan song), "Spanish Rose," "We Love You Conrad," "Honestly Sincere," "A Healthy, Normal American Boy."

The actress playing Rosie (traditionally an actress-dancer) get the choice comic dance, "The Shriner's Ballet," in which she blows off steam after a fight with Albert, but gets trapped in a frenzied Shriner's meeting.

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