Review Roundup: Critics Sounds Off On BYE BYE BIRDIE at the Kennedy Center

Performances run through June 15, 2024 in the Eisenhower Theater.

By: Jun. 10, 2024
Review Roundup: Critics Sounds Off On BYE BYE BIRDIE at the Kennedy Center
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The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is now presenting the Broadway Center Stage production of Bye Bye Birdie, and the reviews are rolling in!

The production stars Christian Borle as Albert Peterson, Krysta Rodriguez as Rosie Alvarez, and Ephraim Sykes as Conrad Birdie. They are joined by Caroline Aaron as Mae Peterson, Ashlyn Maddox as Kim MacAfee, Richard Kind as Harry MacAfee, and Jennifer Laura Thompson as Doris MacAfee.

The cast also includes Allison BlackwellSarah ChiuJackera Davis as Ursula Merkle, Victor de Paula RochaMiguel Gil as Hugo Peabody, Jalen Michael JonesEvan KinnaneHenry Kirk as Randolph MacAfee, Kevin LigonKelly LomonteLuke Kolbe MannikusKevin McAllisterLinda MuglestonMegan Sikora as Gloria Rasputin, Maria Cristina Posada Slye, Renell Taylor, and Dori Waymer.

This new production is directed by Marc Bruni (Beautiful; the Kennedy Center’s Guys and Dolls, The Music Man, and How to Succeed…), with choreography by Denis Jones (Tootsie, the Kennedy Center’s Guys and Dolls) and music direction by John Bell (Spamalot, Into the Woods).

Teen idol Conrad Birdie is drafted into the Army, but before he leaves, he’ll perform a new song on The Ed Sullivan Showand give one last kiss to a lucky fan. Bye Bye Birdie features a hilarious script by Tony Award® winner Michael Stewart (Hello, Dolly!) and a score with more pop than a pack of bubble gum by Tony Award®–winning composer Charles Strouse(Annie) and Tony Award®–winning lyricist Lee Adams (Applause).

Bye Bye Birdie includes scenic design by Lee Savage, lighting design by Cory Pattak, costume design by Linda Cho, sound design by Haley Parcher, video and projection design by Nathan Scheuer, and wig design by Tom WatsonGeoff Josselson is the casting director. The production also features the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.

Let's see what the critics have to say.

Kelsey Casselbury, MD Theatre Guide:  Ensemble members are core to a successful production, and there’s a fantastic group of them here. Choreographer Denis Jones makes the best of them with dance moves that belie that, according to what Borle told WTOP, this show was put together in just about 10 days. Marc Bruni directed the production, while John Bell served as music director. “Bye Bye Birdie” is a family-friendly musical that, while showing its age in the subject matter (though it was revised for the 2009 Broadway revival), offers up plenty of laughs, boisterous energy, and all the heart we need in today’s world.

Keith Loria, TheaterMania: Beaming with charisma and spot-on comic timing, Christian Borle is the ideal Albert, trying to balance managing Birdie’s less-than-press-appropriate lifestyle with his secretary-girlfriend who is losing patience waiting for a ring, and his guilt-inducing mother who has nary a kind word to say and tries to manipulate her son at every turn. Borle is well polished in making audiences smile, and his antics in “Put on a Happy Face” seemed very on-brand. Sarah Chiu as Helen matches Borle’s enthusiasm step-by-step on the tune.

Check back for more reviews!




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