Edward Padula, the Tony Award-winning producer of Bye Bye Birdie, died Nov. 1 of a heart attack suffered during a reading of a new play he had written, according to The New York Times.
Mr. Padula, who, with L. Slade Brown, shepherded the 1961 hit Charles Strouse-Lee Adams musical comedy, had been a stage manager, TV producer, a TV director and writer, a stage director and a stage producer in a long career. A Newark native, he attended the Yale School of Drama and the University of Pennsylvania. He was 85 and was writing a play about Shakespeare called, William S., the Times reported. He lived in Bridgehampton, NY.
The Newark native was a stage manager for the Westport Contry Playhouse in Connecticut, and stage manager and Lawrence Langner's assistant for productions of The Theatre Guild, and assisted New York producer-director John C. Wilson for his productions.
Mr. Padula directed the book of the early Lerner and Loewe musical, The Day Before Spring in 1945, and was production stage manager for No Time for Sergeants in 1955, Rumple in 1957 and God and Kate Murphy in 1959.
His producing triumph, Bye Bye Birdie, about an Elvis-like figure and the songwriter-manager who represents him, directed by Gower Champion, launched Strouse and Adams as a Broadway songwriting team. He won a Tony as producer (back when there was a separate category) and the show also took home the Best Musical Tony. He also produced Strouse and Adams' All American, a college-set musical comedy that starred Ray Bolger (and produced the standard "Once Upon a Time"). Mel Brooks wrote the libretto for the 1962 flop, the cast album of which is embraced by show fans (it's on CD). Mr. Padula also penned the libretto for and directed the forgotten 1966 John Raitt vehicle, A Joyful Noise. With Arch Lustberg, he also produced the Tony Award-nommed Broadway musical, Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, Micki Grant's musical that gave voice the black mens' hopes and thoughts, in 1972-73.
— By Kenneth Jones