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Bye Bye Birdie

  • 1.  Bye Bye Birdie

    Posted 10-11-2018 04:20
    We’re in rehearsals for “Bye Bye Birdie” right now, and I have come across an issue that I would like input on.

    We are doing the revisions that were offered after the NBC movie version. This makes a lot of the overt racism from Mae and the stereotypes from “Spanish Rose” considerably toned down. Not perfect, but somewhat justifiable given the time period.

    However, today I was discussing “Shriner’s Ballet” with my student choreographer (who also happens to be playing Rosie). The more I thought about the song and the character arc, the more uncomfortable I got. When I reread the description of the scene, I realized that I would be offended by this if I was an audience member (Rosie starting out trying to “seduce” the men, but eventually changing her mind, but being pulled under the table with them).

    Would you cut this scene, especially in the current political climate? I would contact Tams for permission to cut this and add a couple of lines to complete the character arc in another way. Or am I being oversensitive and should realize that this was also indicative of the time period of the show.

  • 2.  RE: Bye Bye Birdie

    Posted 10-12-2018 08:09
    ​I think the show reads just as well, maybe better, without the scene.

    Nell] [Lynch]
    Timonium MDMaggie

  • 3.  RE: Bye Bye Birdie

    Posted 10-15-2018 09:09
    I directed Bye Bye Birdie in 2013. I'm a middle school teacher, in the South Bronx. There were certain things that concerned me, mostly the scene in the Ice House. My school, and consequently my cast, is 100% Black and Latino. We performed the script as is, because I feel that I shouldn't do a show if I can't be true to the Author's intentions. Ethnicity is not the central theme of this show, to omit or minimize it denies a reality of those times, and ours. Interestingly, Rose was played by one of the African American students in my cast, which added another dimension to her arc.

    As for the Shriner's dance, why omit it when you can reimagine it. We could not have this dance be overtly sexual because we were in middle school, so we made the dance a moment of empowerment for Rose. The audience doesn't have the stage directions; you can choreograph it so that it appeals to the modern social climate. My student was a bonafide triple threat. I couldn't imagine stealing this moment from her.

    The show works as is, in it's entirety, when you stay true remain true to the literature.

    Hugh Fletcher
    Performing Arts Coordinator
    IS 229 Dr. Roland Patterson Middle School
    Roosevelt NY

  • 4.  RE: Bye Bye Birdie

    Posted 10-15-2018 10:21
    I did the show with MIddle school and at the end of the scene, I had all the men under the table but Rosie slips out. They did not pull her back under.

    Bernadette MacLeod
    Charlotte NC

  • 5.  RE: Bye Bye Birdie

    Posted 10-15-2018 14:49
    I agree with re-imagining it. Maybe it's the guys who are dancing to seduce her, and she rejects each one. The guys could end up fighting each other, while she leaves with her dignity.

    Ken Buswell
    Drama Teacher
    Peachtree City, GA

    Theater kills ignorance

  • 6.  RE: Bye Bye Birdie

    Posted 10-15-2018 15:29
    I've directed it twice, in High School. I choreographed it to empower Rose. The men were all interested, but she turned them down flat ( giving her the control, and allowing her to remain true to Albert). Choreography is the province of the director, and I did not at all feel I was violating copyright or the playwright's work.

    Michael Corliss
    Livonia MI

  • 7.  RE: Bye Bye Birdie

    Posted 03-27-2019 10:04
    In the thread of Bye Bye Birdie. I had a question. Does Rosie call for a latino actress or does it matter what race she is? I am not super familiar with the show, but I am looking into it and I wasn't sure if this was a character that relied on being a certain race. Thank you for your help!

    Elizabeth Nelson
    Bishop Miege High School
    Theatre/Video Production Teacher
    Shawnee Mission, KS

  • 8.  RE: Bye Bye Birdie

    Posted 03-28-2019 07:16
    Our Rosie was Japanese. Our take was that Mae spends the entire show trying to find things “wrong” with Rosie that aren’t actually accurate. She calls Rose old (“in a couple of years you’ll be getting social security), refers to her ethnicity in a variety of ways (“from south of the border,” “go back to Guadalajara,”) in the end, Rosie tells us that she’s from Pennsylvania (either Allentown or Pittsburgh, depending on whether or not you’re doing the updated version), and then makes fun of all of Mae’s misperceptions.

  • 9.  RE: Bye Bye Birdie

    Posted 03-27-2019 15:39
    Many (many, many) years ago I played Rosie and was also the student choreographer for this show. I was mortified at the idea of seducing anyone, and I didn't like what the scene did for the Rosie/Albert relationship as I was playing it. So even though I knew full well what was supposed to be the story of the dance, I created one along the lines of Rosie "dazzling" the shriners, who tried, but could not keep up with her in various dance moments. I think they flopped over or fell under the table one by one as they were overwhelmed by too much dancing, leaving Rosie triumphant but partnerless at the end. I don't remember anything else except that it apparently worked well enough and I eventually became less of a prude. Jokes aside, I applaud my teenage self for having clear boundaries and finding a way to tell a clear story while not making myself miserably uncomfortable with material I wasn't ready for. 

    Meg O'Connor

  • 10.  RE: Bye Bye Birdie

    Posted 03-31-2019 22:47
    Funny to see this now. I was recently having a discussion with my mother about <g class="gr_ gr_76 gr-alert gr_spell gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling ins-del multiReplace" id="76" data-gr-id="76">alot</g> of the musicals that were made during the time period and how a lot of the lines and subject matter haven't held up very good over time. 

    I agree with the other comments, possibly try to reinvent the scene to be less <g class="gr_ gr_375 gr-alert gr_spell gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling ins-del" id="375" data-gr-id="375">cringy</g>. I do think it should remain in the show since it was originally a part of it. Just possibly change it up a bit.

    Matthew Hamilton
    Philadelphia PA

  • 11.  RE: Bye Bye Birdie

    Posted 04-01-2019 08:00
    I choreographed a high school production of Bye Bye Birdie about 15 years ago and we did not cut this number. We had quite a few student athletes who were in the male chorus so we turned it into a rather athletic number that focused more on the guys getting carried away trying to out-dance one another. Our Rosie wasn't a trained dancer so we focused instead on the guys just having a crazy time and pretty much left her out of it after the beginning. The audience loved it (many actually said it was one of their favorite parts!) and the guys had a great time. Nobody pulled her under the table; the guys just started to "pass out" from the dancing (sort of like a dance marathon) and she stepped over all of them and sneaked out of the scene.

    Daniel Doerger
    Membership Outreach Manager
    Cincinnati OH

  • 12.  RE: Bye Bye Birdie

    Posted 02-04-2022 17:11
    What were the edits you refer to and how did you get them?  We are going to do the show and I'm very interested to see what you're referring to and possibly consider using them.

    Jorden Cammack
    Thunder Ridge High School