Bye Bye Birdie

Music: Charles Strouse

Lyrics: Lee Adams

Book: Michael Stewart

Bye Bye Birdie opened April 14, 1960. The show featured Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera and was the first big hit for songwriters Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, librettist Michael Stewart, and director Gower Champion. The plot revolves around rock and roll superstar Conrad Birdie (Dick Gautier) and his agent, Albert Peterson (Dick Van Dyke). Albert has gone deep into debt promoting Birdie's career. Now that Birdie has become a superstar, however, all of Albert's work is about to pay off. At least it would have paid off if Birdie had not just been drafted. To make matters worse, Rosie, Albert's long-time secretary and love interest, decides to resign. She has waited eight years for Albert to give up the music business, become an English teacher, and settle down with her in a nice apartment somewhere. She will wait no more!

Desperate not to lose Rosie, Albert promises to quit the music business as soon as he can get enough cash to pay off the debts he has incurred promoting Birdie's career. Rosie then comes up with a plan. They will stage a publicity stunt on The Ed Sullivan Show in which one lucky girl, whose name will be chosen from the official Conrad Birdie Fan Club, will give Birdie his last kiss as a civilian on national television. They will use the publicity from this stunt to promote Birdie's latest hit, "One Last Kiss". It will be such a success that Albert will easily make back the money he has lost, and he and Rosie can settle down comfortably in their new life together. Albert agrees and immediately sets out to write the song. The lucky girl chosen to give Birdie his last kiss is Kim MacAfee of Sweet Apple, Ohio .... age 15.

Next we are introduced to the teenagers of Sweet Apple, chattering endlessly on the telephone. Kim has just resigned as president of the Conrad Birdie Fan Club because Hugo Peabody has asked her to go steady and given her his pin. She feels very grown up and mature. That is, until she learns that she has been chosen to give Birdie his last kiss! Hugo is not at all happy about Conrad kissing his girl. Kim assures Hugo that no one will come between them ("One Boy"), but Hugo isn't buying it. Soon, Conrad arrives in Sweet Apple, and the town welcomes him with open arms. He is lodged at the MacAfee household. Mr. MacAfee, who is dispossessed of his bedroom, is furious until he learns that the entire family will appear on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Meanwhile, Rosie is becoming discouraged because Albert has not yet informed his controlling mother about their marriage plans. She begins to doubt that Albert will follow through on his promise. When she meets Hugo, who has decided that he will not allow his girl to be kissed on national television by another man, Rosie is sympathetic and offers to help him get into the studio. Conrad performs "One Last Kiss" live on the air. He then takes Kim in his arms for the publicity kiss, but just then Hugo rushes forward and with one well-placed punch, knocks Conrad out cold!

Albert is furious, but Rosie doesn't care. She has decided to leave him ("What Did I See in Him?"). Kim has also decided to leave the "childish" Hugo. Meanwhile, Albert is frantically trying to reschedule the kiss for the following evening, but Conrad is fed up with the whole thing and decides to sneak out of the house for a good time. Outside, he runs into Kim, who has also snuck out of the house. They decide to go look for a good time together. However, once they are alone, they realize that they have nothing in common and they are both bored stiff. When the police discover them together, the older Conrad is hauled off to jail on charges of "depravity". Hugo arrives and Kim his happy to be back with her old beau.

Meanwhile, realizing how much he misses Rosie, Albert finally confronts his controlling mother and informs her that he is going to marry the girl. Mother Mae is furious, but Albert doesn't care--he has made up his mind. Then, learning of Conrad's arrest, he marches off to arrange for the rock star's release. The next morning, Conrad happily ships off for active duty. After the trauma of the last few days, the Army will seem like a vacation!

Finally, meeting Rosie at the train station, Albert informs her that they are not going back to New York, but rather to Pumpkin Falls, Iowa, where he has an interview for a post as an English teacher. He also tells her that they prefer married applicants. Rosie is, of course, delighted.

Bye Bye Birdie ran for 607 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre. Dick Van Dyke repeated his role in the 1963 screen version which also starred Ann-Margret.

  • Search eBay! for BYE BYE BIRDIE collectibles

Cast Albums  |  Sheet Music  |  The Movie  |  Posters


Cast Albums

Sheet Music

The Movie


Related Sites

American Theatre Index

Related Musicals


Moonstruck Drama Bookstore  |  Theatre News  |  Theatre Links  |  Email Us