Arts & Culture

A trip down memory lane with Bye Bye Birdie

Mary Espiritu

Bye Bye Birdie is the third production in the Music Circus’s summer series, currently celebrating their 65th anniversary. Music Circus is the largest theater-in-the-round in the country that has enjoyed continual operation since their opening in 1949. If you haven’t experienced theater in this unique setting you’re missing out. With it’s unique rotating round stage and seating all around, there’s not a seat in the house that can be called “nose-bleeds” or “cheap seats.”

Since Mad Men made its TV debut virtually anything mid-century has become popular again. Being a fan of all things 50’s, myself, and someone who grew up watching movies from that era, I was immediately drawn to the music and story of Bye Bye Birdie. Set in 1958, Bye Bye Birdie is a satire based on the real-life draft and eventual enlistement of Elvis Presley into the Army in 1957. It’s a Tony award winning musical that has endured for 55 years and spawned a classic movie starring Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh & Ann-Margret

Stuart Marland really makes his mark, as the hand-wringing father, Mr. MacAfee. Bringing a speaking pitch and cadence to the role reminiscent of Nathan Lane, Marland brought so much life and hilarity to the character that my girlfriend and I were in stitches whenever he took the stage. His antics during the Ed Sullivan show scene had us all rolling!

Equally impressive and, to me, the star of the show, was Janine DiVita as Rose Alvarez. Her expressive face and the life she brought to her character made up for the slight lack of chemistry between DiVita and her castmate Larry Raben, who played Conrad Birdie’s agent, Albert Peterson.

The catchy tunes, that many of us already seem to know (though we might not be sure why) like “Put on a Happy Face” and “Kids,” and Doo Wop style harmonies in “Baby, Talk to Me,” make the music the star of this production. And an eye to detail was apparent in the costuming, which also doesn’t disappoint. So as a girl who’s a big fan of clothing from this era I was delighted by the girls in their swinging, brightly colored skirts, and DiVita in her pin-up worthy fitted pencil skirts and delicious heels.

With impressive group songs and dance scenes throughout, witty dialogue, and hilarious, over-the-top antics, Bye Bye Birdie is a treat that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Bye Bye Birdie is running through Sunday, July 12th. Tickets are still available and range from $40 to $83. Visit for more information.

Bonus: purchase discount tickets via this link and save $18 on your tickets.