Jennifer Lopez to Star in NBC’s 2017 Holiday Musical, Bye Bye Birdie

News   Jennifer Lopez to Star in NBC’s 2017 Holiday Musical, Bye Bye Birdie
Original star Chita Rivera reacts for
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Jennifer Lopez Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

NBC-TV has announced that its 2017 holiday live Broadway musical broadcast will be Bye Bye Birdie, and its star will be pop songstress Jennifer Lopez, according to a report in The Hollywood Reporter.

She will sing the Charles Strouse/Lee Adams score, which includes “Spanish Rose” for her, and “Put on a Happy Face” for her yet-unnamed leading man. The musical satirizes an Elvis Presley-like pop star who tries to make one last splash before being drafted into the army. The musical ran a year and a half in its original 1960 Broadway engagement, which starred Chita Rivera and Dick Van Dyke. The 1963 movie version starred Van Dyke, Janet Leigh, and Ann-Margret. The show, which features a large cast of teens, has become a favorite of school groups.

Contacted for comment by, Rivera replied, “Birdie is an amazing, joyous 50s era musical with a tremendous score and characters. It’s meant to make you feel good…couldn’t be more timely. I call it the Technicolor musical! I hope they do the ‘Shriner’s Ballet.’ Have fun, JLo. You’ll love Rosie.”

Rivera referred to the fact that some productions cut a big dance number, “Shriner’s Ballet,” which was created for her.

Harvey Fierstein will adapt Michael Stewart’s libretto for the 2017 broadcast. Multiple Tony winner Fierstein also adapted and will co-star in NBC's upcoming 2016 holiday live musical, Hairspray Live!, set for broadcast December 7.

Lopez will star as Rosie and executive produce the Universal Television musical with her manager, Benny Medina, plus Nuyorican Productions’ Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Craig Zadan, and Neil Meron.

No date for the broadcast was announced, though previous NBC live shows The Sound of Music Live!, Peter Pan Live!, and The Wiz Live! were broadcast in early December.

NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt made the announcement October 27 at a panel discussion. He was quoted saying, "She [Lopez] came to us and said, 'I love this movie and I'd love to do it.'" Asked if she would be willing to do it live, Lopez — whose Las Vegas shows have included the song "A Lot of Livin’ To Do" from the score — responded, "Absolutely."

Early in her career Lopez appeared in regional productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Oklahoma! She sang in the chorus of a European tour of Golden Musicals of Broadway.

Lopez may have caught the theatre bug anew from Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda, with whom she sang a duet on the song "Love Make the World Go Round" at a memorial for the Orlando, FL, shooting victims, which they recreated on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.

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