The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Guilty Pleasures – Bye Bye Birdie

It’s theater time again!

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And this time it’s the super-proud papa edition. This weekend Tappan Middle School here in Ann Arbor is putting on their production of Bye Bye Birdie! If you’re local, there are still tickets available at http://www.showtix4u.com.

It’s really a bit of a small miracle that this thing comes together at all.  Ours is the only middle school in the district that puts on a major musical and that’s a testament to our area’s enthusiastic support of the arts.  And since this is a school production, we’re drawing only from a small geographic area so we don’t have the benefit of bringing ringers from a  different town.  All our talent lives here.

But what’s most miraculous of all is that these young actors accomplish so much in so little time with the serious limitations of one of the music directors.

Me.

I’m truly amazed at all of these kids, but I really have to give a special shout-out to two of them – my twin Pieholes. One’s contributions are seen in every single scene, but you don’t actually get to see her.  That’s because she’s up in the lighting booth operating the spots and bossing around the sixth and seventh graders.

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The other is a little bit more visible as she plays the role of Kim MacAfee.

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She’s one of the lead characters, the one who was played in the 1963 movie by the legendary Ann-Margret.

Slight resemblance?  Maybe not... (lecinemadreamsblogspot)

Slight resemblance? Maybe not… (lecinemadreamsblogspot)

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The story takes place in 1958 small-town America.  Albert, a New York-based music agent and songwriter, finds himself in trouble when Conrad Birdie, his rock-n-roll star client, gets drafted a la Elvis Presley.  His secretary/girlfriend Rosie comes up with the idea to have Conrad perform a new song “One Last Kiss” on The Ed Sullivan Show and kiss a lucky fan before going off to the army.  That girl is Kim, a member of his fan club in Sweet Apple, Ohio.   The plan was for Albert and Rosie to make enough money from the event so that he can give up the music business and settle down.  Rosie even sings about her dream of becoming an English teacher ‘s wife and the peaceful life they can lead.

I guess that was the 1950s version of reaching for the stars.

Bye Bye Birdie is one of those classic examples, like Annie, where the movie is no comparison to the original play.  It’s really a shame that movie producers feel the need to improve on Broadway shows that won awards and the hearts of many.  That’s why a show is viable for a movie  in the first place – it’s damn good and people love it.  So why change?  It happens with books all the time, which is fine because you can’t capture everything from a book in a two hour movie.  But with a musical, we’re talking about something that’s already “summarized.”  Yet these bozos decide to cut out whole songs and make drastic changes.  In this case, the moviemakers re-arranged the whole show and made one of the main characters – Rosie – an afterthought while adding in a ridiculous plot element of turtles on drugs.  Seriously.

In addition to Ann-Margret, the movie starred legends Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh, Paul Lynde, and Maureen Stapleton. There was also a 1995 TV version that starred Jason “Costanza” Alexander, Vanessa Williams, and Chynna Phillips. That movie must’ve sucked something fierce since I can’t find any clips of it on YouTube.

Since my daughter would probably kill me in my sleep if I posted a video of her singing, you’ll have to settle for Ann-Margret.

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As if one  ever “settles” for Ann-Margret.

There are some really great, well-known songs in the show.  Here’s Dick van Dyke singing “Put on a Happy Face”

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In one of the original stage productions, Albert was played by Peter Marshall, who went on to become the host of the game show The Hollywood Squares.  If you remember that era of the show, the middle square was always occupied by Paul Lynde, who was featured in the song “Kids” –

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If you’re in the area, I really hope you come out, it’s a fun time.  I’ll be the guy blubbering tears of joy in the back.

Break a leg!

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About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

10 comments on “Guilty Pleasures – Bye Bye Birdie

  1. Yinzerella
    March 28, 2014

    That is one of my all-time favorite movies!
    I live for Paul Lynde. And I still want to be Ann-Margret when I grow up.
    Man, I wish we had done Bye Bye Birdie instead of The Wiz…

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 28, 2014

      What role did you play!?!?

      • Yinzerella
        March 28, 2014

        I was Addapearle the witch who ruled over the munchkins.
        Oh my god was it horrible. A bunch of suburban white kids doing the super-soul black musical version of the Wizard of Oz.
        Horrendous.

  2. Duff's Wines
    March 28, 2014

    My best friend played the Paul Lynde role in his high school production of Bye Bye Birdie. After a few, he still regales us (and i use that term loosely) with his version of Kids…..Clearly, an unforgettable moment in his life. Very cool that your kids get to experience theatre in this way.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 28, 2014

      It’s a funny song done by a very funny character. Lynde was great but would’ve been better if they stuck to the original script.

      Yeah, it’s a terrific way to gain a lifelong appreciation of theater. And I gotta admit, I love being part of the process myself.

  3. ksbeth
    March 28, 2014

    hey, do you know kris park, who does a lot of set design/stage direction for some of the tappan and pioneer plays? good friend of mine. love every one i’ve ever seen. )

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 28, 2014

      Yes! I was music director on her last Tappan play – Little Shop of Horrors. Her daughter was lead. See her around town a lot.

      • ksbeth
        March 28, 2014

        yes, chloe. i was there – and it was great play. great job on the music ) tell her beth said hello next time you see her, she’ll be surprised. and she’s a part of my happy hour book club. i used to teach her older daughter when she was little and i’ve stayed friends w the whole family. small world )

  4. thewineraconteur
    March 29, 2014

    There is nothing like school theatrics and wine works well, listening to the endless rehearsals. KIDS

  5. Pingback: Guilty Pleasures: Anything Goes! | The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on March 28, 2014 by in Ann Arbor, Music and tagged , , , , , , .
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