Bye Bye Birdie | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Bye Bye Birdie 

Bye Bye Birdie, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Michael Stewart, Lee Adams, and Charles Strouse's loose retelling of Elvis Presley's last hurrah before enlisting in the army is now 40 years old but has aged gracefully. Peppered with humor and wry innuendo, it features at least one perfect song ("Kids") and a handful of absolutely great ones. And the story appeals more to the universal truths of intergenerational divide than to nostalgia for its own sake. Save for a somewhat muddy denouement, in which one pair of romantic leads outstrips another, it's an immaculate piece of theater.

Director Joe Leonardo largely plays by the book in this gem of a staging, but the production does feature all sorts of subtle enhancements. Thomas M. Ryan's open, expansive set ably signals the electrifying air of possibility in early-60s America, and Kenny Ingram's simple yet elegant choreography exploits the set's every crevice. Cheryl Avery does the freshest turn as bride-in-waiting Rosie, not only straddling the line between the character's awakening sexuality and girl-next-door sweetness but urging everyone around her to even greater heights.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

More by Nick Green

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
July 15
Performing Arts
Henchpeople Jarvis Square Theater
July 09

Popular Stories