BYE BYE BIRDIE
book by Michael Stewart lyrics by Lee Adams music by Charles Strouse.
Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre 53 Hoe Street Walthamstow E17 4SA To 4 September 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 20min. One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8520 8674.
Review: William Russell 16 August.
Tired satire, great tunes as Rose rises to the occasion.
A sparkling performance by Liberty Buckland carries this workmanlike production by director James Hume of a past-its-sell-by date musical to success.
The 1960 Broadway show has not worn well as far as the book is concerned – allegedly a satire then, it now borders on the offensive at times – but the songs by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams are mostly very good, although one or two, like ‘Put on a Happy Face’, have become slightly tarnished over the years having turned into pantomime staples.
The plot was inspired by the fact that Elvis had to do military service, leaving his fans bereft. A pop singer, Conrad Birdie, nicely done by Zac Hamilton, is sent by his manager, Albert Peterson, on a pre call-up publicity stunt to give his last civilian kiss to one of his fan club.
Peterson, played by Ryan Forde Rosco, has a bossy mother and a secretary, Rose Alvarez, played by Buckland, whom he cannot bring himself to propose to.
It is a very staple Broadway musical plot, tired beyond belief now, often echoing other, better shows, while Mother’s taunts at Rose’s Hispanic origins seem to border at times on racism today. They are certainly not funny. However Buckland, in the role created by Chita Rivera, saves the day.
Although less well-cast as the mummy-pecked Albert – he is not a natural comedian – Ryan Forde Iosco holds his own in the face of the fireworks being let off by his co-star. There is a hard-working ensemble, although some of the bobby-soxer screaming is a bit loud, and a fine four piece band which does full justice to the score.
But this is not a musical crying out for revival and the songs – ‘One Boy’, ‘Kids’ and ‘A Lot of Livin’ To Do’ among them – could be enjoyed perfectly well on their own without being immersed in Mr Stewart’s dire plot.
Conrad Birdie was, by the way, the second choice for the pop star’s name. They had chosen Conway Twitty, only to find there was a real country and western singer of that name, who was not amused.
Albert Peterson: Ryan Forde Iosco.
Rose Alvarez: Liberty Buckland.
Conrad Birdie: Zac Hamilton.
Kim MacAfee: Abigail Matthews.
Mae Patterson/Ursula Merkle: Jayne Ashley.
Hugo Peabody: Benedikt de la Bedoyere.
Harvey Johnson: Lucas James.
Nancy: Beth Bradley.
Charles F. Maude: Lewis Asquith.
Alice/Gloria Rasputin: and Dance Captain: Emily Noke.
Harry MacAfee and Mayor: Harry Hart.
Doris MacAfee: Stephanie Lyse.
Randolph MacAfee: Stephen Loriot.
Margie: Flora Charlton.
Penelope Ann: Stephanie Palmer.
Director: James Hume.
Lighting: Sky Bembury.
Musical Director: Aaron Clingham.
Choreographer: Anthony Whiteman.
Costume: Ryan Walklett.
Dance Captain: Emily Noke.