Flashback Friday: Fans will never say goodbye to ‘Bye Bye Birdie’

The 2009 Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie.

The 2009 Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie.

Fangirling is a phenomenon that has been sweeping the world for decades. And way back in 1960, a musical opened on Broadway that exaggerated these first fangirls while simultaneously showcasing a story and music that have become beloved by many generations.

Bye Bye Birdie, which tells the story of the events and shenanigans that occur before rock-and-roll star Conrad Birdie is sent off to war, has become a musical theatre treasure.

The original Broadway cast featured such incredible talents as Dick Van Dyke, Chita Rivera and Paul Lynde and while it performed fewer than 1,000 performances, the fun and upbeat show was very well received and was on its way to becoming a classic.

Audiences fell in love with the 1963 movie adaptation, and in the same way as many musical-to-movies did at that time, it became even more popular than the stage show itself. Bye Bye Birdie became so popular that a very short-lived sequel to the original, titled Bring Back Birdie, hit Broadway in 1981 but only ran for four performances.

While the sequel was obviously a misstep, it never directly affected the fondness audiences had for the original. Charles Strouse and Lee Adams composed such classics as “Telephone Hour,” “Put On a Happy Face” and “A Lot of Livin’ to Do,” which are songs that have a fresh rock-and-roll style and still retain a traditional musical theatre sound.

Aside from the music, the over-the-top but lovable characters are another strength of this musical. It’s hard not to root for everyone, including Conrad’s struggling songwriter Albert Peterson, Albert’s sassy girlfriend Rosie and, of course, Kim McAfee, the teenage leader of the Conrad Birdie fan club who is about to live out every fangirl’s dream in the show by receiving Conrad’s final kiss before he leaves for the Army. Even Kim’s overprotective and attention-seeking father is so funny it’s impossible to dislike him.

Bye Bye Birdie was again adapted into a film in 1995 and then later revived on Broadway in 2009, but both seemed lackluster compared with previous adaptations even though Jason Alexander and Vanessa Williams lent their talents to the movie and John Stamos joined the Broadway revival.

Bye Bye Birdie is an accessible musical that can easily be performed by schools and community theaters and will guarantee a really fun time onstage for young casts.

Because of its timeless music and hilariously lovable characters, Bye Bye Birdie has become a beloved musical that has entertained audiences for decades and will surely continue to in the future.

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