Rock ‘n’ roll’s first Broadway musical comes to the Davis Musical Theatre Company, when the Tony Award-winning “Bye Bye Birdie” takes the stage Nov. 4-27.
Directed and choreographed by Jan Isaacson, with musical direction by Chris Congdon, “Bye Bye Birdie” is a ripped-from-the-headlines satire from the 1950s.
When an over-the-top rocker is drafted into the U.S. Army, his publicity agents concoct a way to capitalize on the loss of their biggest star by creating a press frenzy around a sheltered Midwest teen who will receive the idol’s last kiss before he leaves to serve his country.
The show is filled with unforgettable tunes from Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, such as “Put On a Happy Face,” One Boy” and “A Lot Of Living To Do.”
“Bye Bye Birdie,” directed and choreographed by Gower Champion, opened on Broadway on April 14, 1960, and was a sleeper hit, shocking everyone with its success. The original cast included Dick Van Dyke, Chita Rivera, Paul Lynde, Dick Gautier and Charles Nelson Reilly. It ran for 607 performances.
In 2009, “Bye Bye Birdie” returned to Broadway as a limited revival with John Stamos in the starring role.
Showtimes at DMTC’s Performing Arts Center, 607 Peña Drive, are at 8:15 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:15 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 27.
Tickets are $18 general, $16 for students and seniors, and $14 per person for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available online at www.dmtc.org or by calling (530) 756-3682. For more information, email email@example.com.
“Bye Bye Birdie” trivia:
* The story was inspired by Elvis Presley, who in 1957 was drafted into the U.S. Army.
* “Conrad Birdie” is word play on the name of Conway Twitty, the real-life country music star and Elvis rival originally slated to play Conrad. Twitty dropped out before the show began.
* After both Carol Haney and Eydie Gorme turned down the role of Rosie, Chita Rivera was cast and the character’s last name was changed from Grant to Alvarez.
* “Bye Bye Birdie” was originally titled “Let’s Go Steady.”
* In 1981, there was a short-lived Broadway sequel, “Bring Back Birdie,” starring Donald O’Connor and returning original cast member Chita Rivera. It closed after four performances.
* The “Telephone” segment was almost cut from the musical because no one could figure out how to stage it. Finally, Champion suggested building a box-like shelf unit with oddly shaped sections that the actors could occupy while performing. As each actor sang their part, the light in their section would be turned on.
* Charles Strouse, “Bye Bye Birdie’s” composer, also composed the opening theme song for television’s “All In The Family.”