Critics wish 'Bye Bye Birdie' was more than just a title
The first Broadway revival of 1961 Tony champ "Bye Bye Birdie" was dismissed by the critics, receiving some of the harshest reviews in recent memory. And while leads John Stamos and Gina Gershon were faulted, reviewers reserved their strongest criticism for Tony winner Bill Irwin ("Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?") in the role of the beleaguered father of the teenage girl chosen to receive one last kiss from rock 'n' roll idol Conrad Birdie.
Robert Longbottom took on the same double duties of directing and choreographing that won Gower Champion a pair of Tonys in 1961. As per the critics, he missed the mark on both fronts. And with a quartet of Tony-winning tuners -- "A Little Night Music," "Finian's Rainbow," "La Cage Aux Folles" and "Ragtime" -- still to come this season, "Bye Bye Birdie" may have a tough time earning even a nod in the best revival race.
In a Tony twist, original stars Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera contended for featured awards because they were billed below the title -- he won his only Tony bid while she had to wait till 1984 and nod No. 5 ("The Rink") to win. Rivera picked up a Tony bookend in 1993 for "Kiss of the Spider Woman."
Photo: Roundabout Theatre Company