Includes rare photos and three preciously unreleased bonus tracks.
Music composed by Charles Strouse. Lyrics written by Lee Adams.
Principal cast includes: Janet Leigh, Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret, Maureen Stapleton, Bobby Rydell, Jesse Pearson, Ed Sullivan.
Originally released on RCA (1081). Includes liner notes by Didier C. Deutsch.
Lyricist: Lee Adams.
Liner Note Author: Didier C. Deutsch.
Recording information: Columbia Pictures Studios, Hollywood, CA.
Director: George Sidney.
Arranger: Johnny Green .
Like all Broadway musicals, Bye Bye Birdie underwent some changes on its way to the big screen. In the case of this show, a parody of the 1950s rock & roll fervor that took off from Elvis Presley's departure for the army, the main alteration had to do with the balance of emphasis among the characters. Although it was an ensemble piece, on-stage the starring role was that of Albert Peterson, manager and songwriter for teen heartthrob Conrad Birdie, who conceives a promotional stunt in which Birdie will kiss an ordinary teenager on The Ed Sullivan Show just before beginning his military service. Dick Van Dyke became a star playing Peterson and had gone on to his own TV series, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and since he was repeating his performance, one might have expected him to dominate the film. Instead, his role was reduced (of the five songs cut from the show for the movie, three were his), while the minor role of Kim McAfee, the teenager, was expanded, the better to employ the talents of 21-year-old Ann-Margret. Her significance was unmistakable; the film opened and closed with her onscreen alone, singing a newly written title song. Also reduced was the role of Peterson's fianc?e, who had been played on-stage by Chita Rivera. In the film, Janet Leigh handled it, and she had much less to do. Paul Lynde repeated his performance as Mr. McAfee, singing "Kids," and Jesse Pearson replaced Dick Gautier as an adequate Birdie. Teen star Bobby Rydell was underutilized as Kim's unhappy boyfriend, Hugo Peabody. The beefed-up arrangements gave the score a Hollywood sheen and de-emphasized the attack on rock & roll. (Songwriters Lee Adams and Charles Strouse had written some deliberately bad songs for Birdie to sing, which didn't bother a Broadway audience in 1960, but by 1963 rock was better accepted, and the filmmakers didn't want to offend the broader film audience.) Ann-Margret was a big addition, but the original Broadway cast recording was still the one to own. ~ William Ruhlmann
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