Bye Bye Birdie: Synopsis & Characters

Instructor: Kathryn Brown

Kathryn teaches high school vocal music, music history, music theory, and musical theatre. She also maintains an active piano teaching and performance schedule.

Bye Bye Birdie is an American musical about fictional pop sensation Conrad Birdie and his final performance before being drafted to the army. He promises a song and a kiss to a typical American teenager on the Ed Sullivan Show. With two Broadway runs and two concert versions, in addition to appearances on both the small and silver screens, this classic musical theatre show highlights life in 1950's America and the early rock and roll music craze.

The town of Sweet Apple swoons over Conrad Birdie.

Introduction

With a nostalgic, early Rock and Roll sentiment, Bye Bye Birdie holds a special place in musical theatre history. With now-iconic songs, including 'Put On A Happy Face' and 'We Love You Conrad', it was one of the first shows to highlight the rock and roll genre, paving the way for future rock musicals on stage.

Act One

Channeling Elvis Presley, Conrad Birdie, styled with a pompadour and side burns and flamboyant costumes, is drafted to the army. Frantic, his manager, Albert Peterson, declares this will end Almaelou Music Corporation. His secretary and girlfriend, Rosie Alvarez, urges him that this is the sign he needed to return to college and complete his teaching degree ('An English Teacher'). To give Birdie one final publicity moment before his induction, and to get Albert out of debt, Rosie crafts a plan for Birdie to sing a new song and give a kiss to an American girl on the Ed Sullivan show. They choose from the Birdie Fan Club, and fifteen year old Kim MacAfee from Sweet Apple, Ohio is selected.

Conrad Birdie Fan Club

In Sweet Apple, Kim MacAfee and the other teenagers of Sweet Apple High are heard gossiping about the relationships of the week ('The Telephone Song'). Thrilled with her new relationship with Hugo Peabody, and delighted with growing up ('How Lovely to be a Woman'), Kim quits the Birdie Fan Club.

Before leaving New York City for Sweet Apple, Conrad and his publicity team are met by a group of local teenage girls ('Put On a Happy Face'). Albert's mother, Mae Peterson, arrives and shows a complete disregard for Rosie. Her overbearing presence makes Albert uncomfortable - he is unable to tell her he has chosen to close his production company. Reporters arrive to interview Conrad one last time. (' A Healthy, Normal American Boy').

Conrad is given a hero's welcome to Sweet Apple, but Hugo worries Kim will like Conrad more, though Kim reassures him he is the only one ('One Boy'). Conrad's performance drives the girls crazy, causing them to faint, and shocking their parents ('Honestly Sincere').

Conrad is invited to the MacAfee home for dinner, but proves to be a rude and selfish guest. Kim's father, Harry MacAfee, is hesitant about Conrad kissing Kim, but after being told the entire family will be on the Ed Sullivan Show, the family sings the famous television host's praises ('Hymn for a Sunday Evening (Ed Sullivan)').

Rosie becomes jealous when Gloria Rasputin is introduced to Albert by his mother as a potential new secretary and hopeful dancer in show business. She dreams up a variety of ways to kill Albert ('One Hundred Ways Ballet'). Conrad sings on The Ed Sullivan Show ('One Last Kiss') and as he leans in to kiss Kim, Hugo rushes the stage and punches Conrad.

Act Two

Rosie laments over her relationship with Albert ('What Did I Ever See in Him?'), and announces she is leaving him for good. Birdie grows weary of the publicity stunt and leaves to meet some 'chicks' ('A Lot of Livin' To Do'). By chance, he meets Kim running away from home, and after convincing her there are places to go and things to do, they head to the Ice House, the local teen hangout. Mr. MacAfee discovers their actions and expresses his frustration and confusion with the younger generation ('Kids').

Rosie heads to the town bar to relieve her stress. Albert reaches out to Rose and unsuccessfully pleads with her to listen ('Baby Talk to Me'). Albert searches for Rosie, while his mother follows, over-dramatically wailing about her son's lack of love for her. Once his mother leaves, Albert and the MacAfees joins the search for for Conrad and Kim. Finding Rosie instead, they learn Kim and Conrad are at the Ice House.

At the Ice House, they find the young couple bored with each other and desperate to get away. As Kim is a minor, Conrad is arrested, and Kim and Hugo reconcile. With a new-found sense of confidence, Albert demands that Rosie meet him the next day with legal documents. Rosie flaunts her relationship in front of Mrs. Peterson ('Spanish Rose').

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