Bye Bye Birdie

Music By: Charles Strouse

Lyrics By: Lee Adams

Book By: Michael Stewart

Distributed by: Masterworks Broadway

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


           Based loosely on the uproar caused by Elvis Presley's drafting into the Army in 1958, the musical Bye Bye Birdie first hit Broadway in April 1960 and became an overnight success.  Changes were made when the musical was adapted for the big screen in 1963.  I first had an opportunity to see a performance of Bye Bye Birdie when my sister appeared in her high school's rendition of the musical.  I found myself instantly smitten with the story and the songs.  Now, years later, I have been given the opportunity to listen to the Bye Bye Birdie movie soundtrack recently rereleased by Masterworks Broadway.

In the movie version of the musical, it all begins when rock and roll superstar Conrad Birdie (Jesse Pearson) finds himself drafted into the Army.  Failed songwriter Albert Peterson (Dick Van Dyke) and his quick thinking secretary and sweetheart, Rosie DeLeon (Janet Leigh), come up with a publicity stunt that just might save Birdie's career.  Conrad Birdie will perform Albert's newly completed song One Last Kiss on the Ed Sullivan Show, plucking a lucky member of his fan club from the audience to give her one last kiss before going off to the Army.

Unfortunately, the lucky girl, Kim MacAfee (Ann-Margaret), is actually going steady with Hugo Peabody (Bobby Rydell) and her obsession with the rock and roll singer has made her real boyfriend quite jealous.  Meanwhile, Albert's mother (Maureen Stapleton), having never thought that Rosie was right for him, has decided it is time to break things up.  She introduces him to another woman, making Rosie extremely jealous.  Rosie and Hugo get together and decide to sabotage the Ed Sullivan Show appearance, but will their plan destroy everything, driving a wedge between them and their loved ones?

It's been years since I have seen a performance of Bye Bye Birdie, but I found myself singing along with the songs as soon as I started listening to the Bye Bye Birdie Soundtrack.  The music is light and the lyrics are fun and memorable, especially in songs like We Love You Conrad, Put on a Happy Face, Kids, One Last Kiss and more.  I could perfectly picture scenes like The Telephone Hour, Hymn for a Sunday Evening and Rosie.

The Bye Bye Birdie Soundtrack is a whole lot of fun with great comedic moments, talented singing, enjoyable music and intelligently written, catchy lyrics.  Fans of Broadway musicals will love this album and fans of this musical in particular will cherish it as an important part of their soundtrack collection, whether or not they liked the changes the film writers made for the film.  I've already listened to this soundtrack numerous times, each time grinning from ear to ear.


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