BYE BYE BIRDIE Comes to Chanhassen Dinner Theatres Tonight, 10/5

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres brings its audiences a fresh rendition of a musical classic never before seen on the Main Stage with BYE BYE BIRDIE. This all-American musical will light up the stage with preview performances from tonight, October 5 through 18. Official grand opening festivities take place on October 19. The production is slated to run through March 30, 2013.

Audiences should prepare to “Put on a Happy Face” with this production of BYE BYE BIRDIE. Stated CDT President and Resident Artistic Director Michael Brindisi, “We’re excited to get back to a classic musical on our Main Stage and bringing audiences one that has never been staged here before. It’s hard to believe this show has never been done in our 44-year history.” He continued, “It’s an exuberant, joyous, happy show that will make people forget about the issues of the day and just make them smile. At the same time it has a theme of parents and teens that will still resonate with today’s audiences. I love to direct shows that provide an escape and are enriched with a resounding human message. That’s ‘Birdie.’”

When Elvis-like rock & roll star Conrad Birdie prepares to be inducted into the U.S. Army, the teen nation is united by a national publicity contest where Birdie will bid a typical American teenage girl goodbye with an all-American kiss live on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Kim MacAfee of Sweet Apple, Ohio wins the honor and all the telephones in her town are ringing off the hook. When Birdie arrives in Sweet Apple, people of all ages begin to swoon and the entire town is reeling with excitement. A satire done with the fondest affection, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres breathes new life into this Broadway Tony-Award winning musical of the 60s.

A stage musical with book by Michael Stewart, lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse, BYE BYE BIRDIE was originally titled Let’s Go Steady and was a satire on 1958 American society. It was inspired by the real-life phenomenon of pop singer Elvis Presley entering the U.S. Army in 1957. The rock star character’s name, “Conrad Birdie,” is a word-play on the name Conway Twitty. (Twitty is best remembered today for his long career as a country star, but in the late 1950s, he was Presley’s rock ‘n’ roll rival.) Original producer Edward Padula had the idea that Let’s Go Steady would be “a happy teenage musical to make difference.” When real life events surrounding the drafting of Presley made headlines, there was a media circus including Elvis giving a specially selected member of the Women’s Army Corps “one last kiss.” The use of Conway Twitty’s name became a legal issue, so it was eventually changed to Conrad Birdie. And the story was fully born.

The original Broadway production of BYE BYE BIRDIE (opened April 1960) was a Tony Award-winning success receiving credit for Best Musical; Best Performance by a Featured Actor (Dick Van Dyke); Best Direction (Gower Champion) and Best Choreography (Gower Champion). BYE BYE BIRDIE spawned a London production and several major revivals, a sequel, a hugely popular 1963 film (with Dick Van Dyke, Paul Lynde and Ann-Margret), a 1995 television production (with Nathan Lane, Chynna Phillips and Vanessa Williams), a 2008 Kennedy Center abridged production and a 2009 Broadway revival.

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