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They’ve got a lot of singin’ to do

Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck revives Bye Bye Birdie opening this Friday

by Paul Smart
January 13, 2011 11:58 AM | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo of Michael Torbet as Conrad Birdie by Joanne Contreni
Photo of Michael Torbet as Conrad Birdie by Joanne Contreni
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Bye Bye Birdie is a blast – always has been, always will be, I suspect. Sure, there was an element of suspicion tied to its being a bastardized co-opting of the energies of early rock ‘n’ roll – both when it first came out and throughout much of the 1960s, when authenticity and rawness were more highly prized than they are today. And as with all musical fare, there are those who like to compare versions, or raise eyebrows at the ways in which movie plots drag the music down.

Nevertheless, it’s a fun bit of entertainment: cool for all ages now. It’s funny, and best of all, quite easily hummable – both after seeing it in production, as we’ll all get a chance to do in the coming weeks when it hits the boards at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck for a run, as well as beforehand – with just a little prodding. “C’mon, c’mon, put on a happy face…” – remember that one? Or how about “We love you Conrad, oh yes we do?”

The original book of the 1960 Broadway hit with Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera – later adapted for Hollywood with Ann-Margret as a (surprise!) innocent sex kitten – riffs off the Elvis mania of previous years, and particularly the odd moment when the Pelvis joined the Army for a few years and was simultaneously repackaged for small-town America. In other words, there’s a perfect modern Americanism – and simultaneous nostalgia – to the mixture of sophisticated city-slickerisms and rural ideals at play in Bye Bye Birdie that plays particularly well in our own localized city mouse/country mouse politics.

Performances of Bye Bye Birdie will begin at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays from this Friday, January 14 through January 30 at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, just east of town on Route 308. Special events around the current run include a January 15 “Swinging Saturday Sock Hop,” where all ticketed patrons for the performance are invited to dress for the Hop and mingle with the cast at a special post-show reception. Root beer floats, pigs-in-blankets and cupcakes from Moxie Cupcakes of New Paltz will be the fare of the day. On Fridays, January 14 and 21, special “Teen Rush” discount tickets will also be available.

For further information, including directions and reservations, call (845) 876-3088 or www.centerforperformingarts.org.

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