Tommy Tune gets another smash hit in Bye Bye Birdie
BYE BYE BIRDIE
Directed by Gene Saks.
Starring Tommy Tune and Ann Reinking.
Playing through Oct. 13
At the Colonial Theatre.
By KAI-TEH TAO
HAVING NEVER BEEN EXPOSED TO the 1960s musical hit, Bye Bye Birdie, I was captivated by the musical's recent revival starring nine-time Tony Award winner Tommy Tune and the multi-talented Ann Reinking.
Bye Bye Birdie takes place in the small, peaceful town of Sweet Apple, Ohio. The town suddenly receives its few minutes of fame when a lucky town girl is selected to be given a last kiss by Conrad Birdie, the nation's biggest rock and roll superstar, before he joins the army.
Birdie moves into the girl's home, breaking the tranquillity that once existed. Between the complications that arise from the screaming teenage "Conrad Birdie Fan Club" and the girl's jealous boyfriend, the musical successfully parodies the 1950's frenzy surrounding the draft of Elvis Presley.
The storyline is complemented by Rose Alvarez's (Ann Reinking) efforts to win the love of the confused manager of Conrad Birdie, Albert Peterson (Tommy Tune), whose ambitious and nagging mother prevents him from directly responding to Rose's love. Reinking gave a decent performance as the faithful Rose. Despite a sore throat, she still managed to sing with a husky voice exemplifying Rose's character.
Marilyn Cooper, who played the nagging Mrs. Peterson, stole the show. Her constant rantings about a mother's unappreciated love worked very well. Steve Zahn was also delightful as Hugo Peabody, the jealous boyfriend who cannot understand what the frenzy over Conrad Birdie is about.
Tune's portrayal of Albert Peterson demonstrated his award-winning talents. Showing a remarkable ability to respond to the reactions of the crowd, Tune extended his warmth and enthusiasm to an appreciative audience. When Albert Peterson talks to Rosie about a woman's duty to serve her man and be at his side, the audience quickly greeted these lines with hissing. Tune then casually smiled and replied, "Come on guys, it's the Fifties!"
Tune's distinguished theatrical career includes Seesaw, Nine, Grand Hotel and Best Musical of 1991, The Will Rogers Follies. He has received seven Drama Desk Awards, and is the only person ever to win Tony Awards in four separate categories. Tune is so highly regarded that Bye Bye Birdie's original song-writing team, Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, wrote a new song, "A Giant Step," especially for his character.
With its strong supporting cast and skillful choreography, Bye Bye Birdie is definitely a show to see.