Bye Bye Birdie: A Rock-and-Roll Delight

MUSIC CIRCUS -Bye Bye Birdie dress - 07062015

Photo by Kevin Graft.

Before the Beibs, girls were in a tizzy over the crooning, hip-shaking Conrad Birdie. Hot on the heels of the Antebellum musical, Big River, Music Circus lightens its mood with the nostalgic musical, Bye Bye Birdie. Set in the early sixties, the delightful pastel colored rock-and-roll show follows the crackpot scheme — devised by mama’s boy music manager Albert Peterson (played by Larry Raben) and his secretary/lover Rosie Alvarez (perfectly portrayed by Janine DiVita) — to bring a little publicity to the struggling Almaelou record company. The plan: Have teen heartthrob and Elvis doppelganger, Conrad Birdie give a lucky fan “One Last Kiss” before he joins the Army. A pelvis is thrusted; girls faint; parents call to arms; and tongue-in-cheek hilarity ensues.

Despite what the title implies, the pompadour-coiffed singer is not the main point of interest of the musical, but merely the glue to the plot line’s antics. Truly, the female characters take center stage in Bye Bye Birdie. Anytime Rosie “The Spanish Rose” Alvarez takes the stage it is pure magic. DiVita’s drunken Shriner’s Ballet was easily the show’s highlight. Her nagging future mother-in-law, Mae Peterson (Mary-Pat Green), adds a comic relief with biting put-downs and one liners. And of course, the lucky kiss recipient, Kim MacAfee (Amanda Jane Cooper) is a perfect blend of cheer and teen angst.

Audience members will easily sing along to hits “Put On A Happy Face,” “How Lovely to Be a Woman,” “Kids,” and “A Lot of Livin’ to Do.”

The California Musical Theatre Academy’s Junior Company adds energy (and fan girl excitement) to Bye Bye Birdie. Photo by Charr Crail.

Another feel-good moment: Peppered into the cast are members of the California Musical Theatre Academy’s Junior Company, a program that trains young performers to participate in a Music Circus production alongside actors and crew.

Bye Bye Birdie bounces through the Wells Fargo Pavilion through Sunday, July 12. Evening performances are Tuesdays through Sunday at 7:30pm; matinee performances at Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2pm. For more information, visit the production’s event page.

This blog post was written by’s Content and Social Media Coordinator, Jamila B. Khan.


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