Martin Beck Theatre, (3/05/1981 - 3/07/1981)

First Preview: Jan 26, 1981
Opening Date: Mar 05, 1981
Closing Date: Mar 07, 1981
Total Previews: 31
Total Performances: 4

Category: Musical, Comedy, Original, Broadway

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Jujamcyn Theaters (under the direction of Richard G. Wolff, President)

Produced by Lee Guber, Shelly Gross, Slade Brown and Jim Milford

Book by Michael Stewart; Music by Charles Strouse; Lyrics by Lee Adams; Musical Director: Mark Hummel; Vocal arrangements by Mark Hummel; Dance arrangements by Daniel Troob; Music arranged by Ralph Burns, Stanley Applebaum, Daniel Troob, Philip J. Lang, Jim Tyler, Gary Anderson, Gerald Alters, Scott Kuney, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson and Charles Strouse

Conceived by Joe Layton; Directed by Joe Layton

Scenic Design by David Mitchell; Costume Design by Fred Voelpel; Lighting Design by David Hays; Sound Design by Otts Munderloh; Hair Design by Werner Sherer

General Manager: Theatre Now, Inc.; Company Manager: Stephen Arnold

Production Stage Manager: Nicholas Russiyan; Stage Manager: Tony Manzi

Music Contractor: Seymour Press

Video Sequences Created by Wakefield Poole and Frank O'Dowd; Video Consultant: Lee M. Erdman

Still Photographs by Barbara J. Rossi; General Press Representative: Solters / Roskin / Friedman, Inc.; Casting: Mary Jo Slater; Dance Captain: Zoya Leporska; Musical Consultant: Barbara Strouse; Advertising: Ash / LeDonne

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Opening Night Cast

Donald O'ConnorAlbert
Chita RiveraRose
Maurice HinesMtobe
Maria KarnilovaMae Peterson
Cleve Asbury"Filth" Group
Stage Door Johnnie
Bill BatemanTourist
Reporter #1
Stage Door Johnnie
Vanessa BellGirl Friend
Chorus Girl
Birdette
Michael BlevinsCameraman
Jeb BrownGary
"Filth" Group
Julie CohenGirl Friend
Frank DeSalPorter
Rev. Sun
Reporter #3
Street Cleaner
Stage Door Johnnie
Leon Evans"Filth" Group
Lynnda FergusonRose II
Marcel ForestieriMayor C.B. Townsend
Mark Frawley"Filth" Group
Betsy FridaySunnie
Chorus Girl
Birdette
Larry HymanIndian Brave
Reporter #3
Christine LangnerGirl Friend
Zoya LeporskaTourist's Wife
Effie
Donna MonroeReporter #2
Robin MorseJenny
Peter Oliver NormanHouse Manager
Stage Door Johnnie
Howard ParkerHogan
Guard
Marshall
Kevin PetittWalter
Rebecca RenfroeShopping Bag Lady
Chorus Girl
Birdette
Evan SeplowAlbert, Jr.
"Filth" Group
Barbara Dare ThomasGirl Friend
Janet WongIndian Squaw

Swings: Porter Hudson and Donna Ritchie

Standby: Howard Parker (Albert) and Michon Peacock (Rose)

Understudies: Cleve Asbury (Gary), Bill Bateman (Conrad), Michael Blevins (Albert, Jr.), Betsy Friday (Rose II), Zoya Leporska (Mae Peterson) and Peter Oliver Norman (Mtobe)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 1981 Best Actress in a Musical [nominee] 

Chita Rivera

Drama Desk Award

 1981 Outstanding Actress in a Musical [nominee] 

Chita Rivera

Songs

music by Charles Strouse; lyrics by Lee Adams

ACT 1 Sung By
Twenty Happy YearsRose and Albert
Movin' OutJenny, Gary and Kids
Half of a CoupleJenny and Girl Friends
I Like What I DoRose
Bring Back BirdieMtobe and Company
Movin' Out (Reprise) Kids
Baby, You Can Count On MeAlbert
A Man Worth Fightin' ForRose and Cowboys
You Can Never Go BackMayor C.B. Townsend
FilthFilth
Back in Show Biz AgainAlbert
ACT 2 Sung By
Middle Age BluesAlbert
Inner PeaceRose, Rev. Sun and Sunnies
There's A Brand-New Beat in HeavenMtobe and The Tucson Tabernacle Choir
Twenty Happy Years (Reprise) Albert
Well, I'm Not!Rose
When Will Grown-ups Grow Up?Kids
Middle Age Blues (Reprise) Albert
YoungAlbert
Show GirlsZepol Sisters and Stage Door Johnnies
Bring Back Birdie (Reprise) Conrad and The Birdettes
Twenty Happy Years (Reprise) Albert and Rose

Reviews


New York Daily News: "Fogbound 'Birdie' lost in flight"

Chita Rivera's great legs are as limber as ever, and she gives off sparks from head to toe whenever she's on stage; but all on her own, for "Bring Back Birdie," last night's stale musical at the Martin Beck in which she and Donald O'Connor are starred, is like some prehistoric beast gasping for breath in an alien environment. With a plodding book (Michael Stewart's) for a body, and leaden music (Charles Strouse's) and commonplace lyrics (Lee Adams') to propel it, the thing is unable to lift itself off the ground. Rarely have writers of this trio's attainments appeared less interested in their work.

There were times when I felt I was watching a revival of one of those idiotic musicals of the '20s whose original score had been lost to be replaced with a patchwork of tunes by forgotten writers.

In this sequel by the same writers to the zippy "Bye Bye Birdie," which opened at the same theater 21 years back with Rivera and Dick Van Dyke starred as a pair of pop-music manipulators named Rose and Albert, a search is undertaken by the same two characters, now married and middle-aged, for their onetime rock-and-roll star Conrad Birdie, whom they apparently lost track of after he was drafted.

When "Bring Back Birdie" isn't simply dragging itself across the stage in one dull musical number after another, and through a series of desperate plot developments, it is busy being tasteless. Although the discovery of Birdie in Arizona is a momentarily amusing scene, his transformation into a corpulent, bewigged imitation of the late Elvis Presley in the singer's last years as a performer, right down to the tight flashy costumes the overweight star wore, is shockingly repellent. One learns from the program's "who's who" that Marcel Forestieri, the actor playing this role, is a professional Presley impersonator known as "Little El" both on stage and records. He is a sad sight.

O'Connor, grown a bit thick around the middle himself, has little to do other than a couple of perfunctory tap and soft-shoe routines and the acting of the role of the onetime agent turned English teacher and now bent on earning $20,000 (for the schooling of his and Rose's two children) by producing Birdie for a retrospective TV show. O'Connor, as you all know, is an engaging fellow, and that, along with one fair-to-middlin' piece ("Middle Age Blues") and those bits of footwork, see him through the evening.

But in spite of his efforts and those of Maurice Hines, who does some eccentric dancing as a black private detective, and Maria Karnilova, who play's Albert's complaining mother (until, in the final scene, she appears in spangles to do a giddy flapper song-and-dance routine), and a large supporting cast that includes several children, only the dynamic Rivera rises above the material. And even she is involved with the ensemble in one rather crass dance number devised by Joe Layton, who has staged the entire show while rashly taking additional credit for "conceiving" the production.

As in those silly oldtime musical comedies, the writers have resorted to any means to keep the show going, including such outdated devices as a punk-rock group called Filth and a Moonies (here called "Sunnies") tribal meeting. If it weren't for designer David Mitchell's basic scenic scheme, a forest of active color TV sets showing Tom Snyder among others, and calling to mind the late Gower Champion's charming network of phone-calling teenagers in the earlier show, we'd never for a moment believe all this was taking place in the present.

Strouse's score has been let out piecework to arrangers, no fewer than 10, including Strouse himself, being credited with the orchestrations.

But too many cooks didn't spoil this broth. It was sour to begin with.


New York Daily News
03/06/1981

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