Wednesday, April 14, 2010

50 years ago: Bye Bye Birdie opened on Broadway

Bye Bye Birdie

Charles Strouse (music), Lee Adams (lyrics)

The Musical

Opened on Broadway: April 14, 1960

Number of Performances: 607

Opened at London’s West End: ?

Number of Performances: ?

Movie Release: April 4, 1963

Cast Album

Charted: July 18, 1960

Peak: 12 US

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: show tunes


Charted: April 27, 1963

Peak: 2 US

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: show tunes

Songs on Cast Album:

  1. Overture
  2. An English Teacher
  3. The Telephone Hour
  4. How Lovely to Be a Woman
  5. Put on a Happy Face
  6. Normal American Boy
  7. One Boy
  8. Honestly Sincere
  9. Hymn for a Sunday Evening
  10. One Last Kiss
  11. What Did I Ever See in Him?
  12. A Lot of Livin’ to Do
  13. Kids
  14. Baby, Talk to Me
  15. Spanish Rose
  16. Kids (Reprise)
  17. Rosie

Songs on Soundtrack:
  1. Overture (Bye Bye Birdie – Main Title)
  2. How Lovely to Be a Woman
  3. The Telephone Hour
  4. Put on a Happy Face
  5. Honestly Sincere
  6. Hymn for a Sunday Evening
  7. One Last Kiss
  8. One Boy
  9. Kids
  10. A Lot of Livin’ to Do
  11. Rosie and Bye Bye Birdie (End Title Finale)


3.783 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings for cast album and soundtrack combined)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Show:

“Here is pure pleasure. Bye Bye Birdie, with a book by Michael Stewart, managed to satirize the Elvis Presley craze, racial prejudice, the generation gap, the Shriners, and so on, while retaining a thoroughly plausible air of innocence. The cast is ideal: Dick Van Dyke has an easy charm and faultless timing as pop songwriter Albert, who faces disaster when his meal ticket, the hip-swiveling teen idol Conrad Birdie (Dick Gautier), is drafted. Chita Rivera is sensational as Albert’s exasperated assistant/girlfriend, Rosie. As Kim, the winsome teenager chosen to kiss Birdie in a televised farewell, Susan Watson shows why she was a top Broadway ingenue in her day. Paul Lynde, as Kim’s harried dad, is the least likely husband and father imaginable but is hilarious nonetheless.” CA

Birdie was the making of composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Lee Adams, for good reason. This is the rare Broadway score in which the comedy numbers retain their humor. Among the comedic highlights are The Telephone Hour, in which a horde of teenagers gossip about the budding romance in their midst; Healthy, Normal American Boy, in which Albert and Rosie feed outrageous lies about Conrad to the press; Hymn for a Sunday Evening, a paean to Ed Sullivan’s insanely popular TV variety show, complete with Lynde’s priceless reading of the line, ‘Ed, I love you!’; Kids, the parents’ cri-de-coeur; and Spanish Rose, in which Rivera is a campy delight (‘I’Il be more EspaƱol than Abbe Lane!’). Add a couple of songs that became standards (Put on a Happy Face, A Lot of Livin’ to Do) and what more do you need? Robert Ginzler’s orchestrations keep the tone light and bright throughout. This recording is essential to any Broadway collection.” CA

About the Movie:

“Irving Brecher’s screenplay altered the show’s plot to the point of terminal silliness, adding such complications as a troupe of snooty Russian dancers and a super-effective pep pill. But Strouse and Adams did come up with a kicky new title tune, delivered with gusto by Ann-Margret’s Kim, played as a voluptuous teenager. Van Dyke is still charming and Lynde is still a riot, but a game Janet Leigh isn’t an acceptable substitute for Rivera; the role of Rosie has lost much of its humor along with the songs An English Teacher, ‘Healthy, Normal American Boy,’ and ‘Spanish Rose.’ The soundtrack recording doesn’t replace the Broadway album, but it’s fun if you’re an Ann-Margret fan.” CA

Notes: A CD reissue adds a bonus track featuring Charles Strouse discussing the show and singing “Put on a Happy Face.”

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 12/23/2021.

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