30 Days Of The 2014 Tony Awards: Day #11 - BYE BYE BIRDIE
Today we continue the 2014 edition of our annual BroadwayWorld feature series spotlighting the very best Tony Awards-related moments of all time with a special focus on one of the most oft-revived and popular musicals of all time, BYE BYE BIRDIE.
Tackling the then-topical subject of new music craze rock n roll and its gigantic impact on the younger generation at the time, 1961 Best Musical Tony Award winner BYE BYE BIRDIE by Charles Strouse, Lee Adams and Michael Stewart, originally directed and choreographed by Gower Champion, is one of the very first musicals to introduce the burgeoning rock sound into its score. And, appropriately so, given the story. Ostensibly centered around an Elvis Presley-esque music star with shades of Conway Twitty, notorious and famous for his hip-swiveling, beer-swilling, girl-slinging ways, BYE BYE BIRDIE showcased not only a sprightly young cast outfitted with a series of plucky, pop-infused confections, but also provided a foursome of adult actors with major and memorable lead roles, as well.
Chita Rivera, Dick Van Dyke, Paul Lynde and Kay Medford all were supplied with iconic musical theatre character creations byway of BYE BYE BIRDIE's amusing and daffy plot, with Van Dyke taking home to Tony Award that year for Best Featured Actor In A Musical. While Lynde's "Kids" stopped the show eight times a week, Van Dyke's irrefutable charm in putting across the score standout "Put On A Happy Face" went a long way in endearing him to voters and the public itself, no doubt. Then there were the ladies - besides a hilarious Medford as Albert's meddling mother, Van Dyke's paramour was played by none other than Broadway royalty Chita Rivera, in a career-defining performance still celebrated to this day. Additionally, the score provided the romantic pair with a delightful duet in the form of "Rosie", as well, while the teenagers were given the catchy "The Telephone Hour" production number, not to mention Birdie's many rocking song showcases, such as "A Lot Of Livin' To Do", "One Last Kiss" and "Honestly Sincere".
Besides Van Dyke's win, BYE BYE BIRDIE also took home the Tony Award for Best Musical and for both Best Direction and Best Choreography for Gower Champion.
So, now, let's look at some of the most memorable BYE BYE BIRDIE moments from the Tony Awards and beyond.
First up, go back to 1960 to see this special TV presentation of selected scenes from the show.
Next, Paul Lynde recreates his "Kids" on the 1971 Tony Awards.
After that, Chita Rivera conjures up a magical "Put On A Happy Face" in 1986.
More Chita brilliance byway of this "Shriner's Ballet" revisting.
As a special bonus, take a look at the 2009 Broadway revival.
So, what exactly is it about BYE BYE BIRDIE that brings you back time and time again? Is it the spunky story and colorful characters? The super cool score? Whatever the reason and whatever the season, we can rest assured it won't be too long before we're saying hello to Conrad and the gang again with a show this good. Sincerely.
From This Author Pat Cerasaro