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David Guercio

Bye Bye Birdie Live

36 posts in this topic

3 hours ago, GordonCole said:

Coulda been worse. They coulda cast Conway Twitty over Jesse Pearson and then you would really wonder about why any teenage girls would faint. Speaking of performers who did not turn on teenage girls, my relatives' daughter always laughs about the show, Jersey Boys saying that no teenage girls she knew ever in a million years thought the Four Seasons and particularly the lead singer, were even slightly attractive. She says their songs were popular but the group looked like a bunch of old lounge singers from New Jersey or looked like they were from the Bizarro world. The guys they thought were attractive were people like Elvis, the Beatles or someone who looked young not like the Frankie Valli who looked creepy and dressed like an old man.

Speaking of Pearson's casting, since he looked a bit like Dick Gautier who played it on Broadway, maybe that's why they choose him. Dick played the part very tongue in cheek, and I think Pearson tried to a bit emulate his style. The comparison to Elvis at the time was believed apt, though it was a much more exaggerated version comedically. 

Evidently your relative's daughter never met Gloria Mozerrelli, that transfer student my sophomore year in high school from, ironically enough New Jersey, and who always seemed to melt whenever she heard Valli's falsetto intoning "Sher-er-ER-er-er-er-ry Ba-A-by" over her transistor radio.

(...and especially it seemed on those following Mondays after that group would appear on Ed Sullivan's show the night before and she'd get to see her precious little Frankie on TV)

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On 12/3/2018 at 7:44 PM, speedracer5 said:

Not that I'm emotionally invested in this at all (As much as I love musicals, I am not interested in these live adaptations.  The first time they did it, with Peter Pan I think, it was a curiosity.  Now it seems monotonous), but I hope they cast someone younger to play Conrad Birdie than they did for the movie.  I really enjoy the 1963 movie version, but have never really bought why a bunch of teenage girls, even "teenage" Ann-Margret, would be interested in him.  He looked like somebody's dad! I wonder how the film would have been if they would have been able to cast their first choice, Elvis. 

My favorite part of the movie is either the "Got a Whole Lot of Livin' to Do" part with the crazy dance, or Janet Leigh's wild dance with all the guys wearing Fezes (sp?). 

NBC did “Sound of Music Live” with Carrie Underwood first (I think to test out the waters) and it did extremely well (despite her not being able to act her way out of a paper bag). I didn’t bother watching Peter Pan Live; I think the casting of Christopher Walken as Hook really didn’t do it for me. A Christmas Story didn’t do well either. 

I predicted West Side Story would be one of the next ones, but what with Spielberg working on a new version, I don’t see that happening. 

Fun fact: I actually predicted both Hairspray Live and Bye Bye Birdie Live Before they were even announced. It’s fun to try to tell the future with these things. 

 

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8 hours ago, NickAndNora34 said:

NBC did “Sound of Music Live” with Carrie Underwood first (I think to test out the waters) and it did extremely well (despite her not being able to act her way out of a paper bag). I didn’t bother watching Peter Pan Live; I think the casting of Christopher Walken as Hook really didn’t do it for me. A Christmas Story didn’t do well either. 

I predicted West Side Story would be one of the next ones, but what with Spielberg working on a new version, I don’t see that happening. 

Fun fact: I actually predicted both Hairspray Live and Bye Bye Birdie Live Before they were even announced. It’s fun to try to tell the future with these things. 

 

I think these live musical adaptations might be better if they actually cast people who could act, sing and dance, like a professional Broadway actor, or at least a star known for being versatile (like Hugh Jackman, for example) not whatever the flavor of the month is.  I get though that they need a "name" to draw in an audience.  

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I enjoyed The Wiz Live (much more than the movie, anyway).  It's my understanding that it was one of the more "stagey" of these live productions, which is one of the things I liked about it.  It was like watching a stage musical as opposed to a TV movie that just happens to be live.  Having Queen Latifah play the Wiz was an interesting gender flip, and while she didn't give the standout performance of the show, she was infinitely better than Richard Pryor.  Thankfully they selected an unknown actress to play Dorothy rather than a "name," and she brought freshness and energy to her performance.  The trio of Elijah Kelley (who starred in the Hairspray film) as the Scarecrow, singer Ne-Yo as the Tin Man, and especially David Alan Grier as the Lion were terrific.  The show dragged in the last act, with a serviceable but little-else Mary J. Blige as the Witch.

I also watched Grease Live and Hairspray Live, both of which were more elaborately produced but also less interesting for all of that.  I was hoping Grease would be closer to the original stage version, but it was basically just a copycat of the 1978 movie (with a few of the stage version's songs retained), right down to Vanessa Hudgens sporting Stockard Channing's trademark short hair.  The stunt casting of teen sensation Ariana Grande in Hairspray Live was dire, as was a cameo by Rosie O'Donnell.  Both of these productions strove to look more like movies, complete with complicated camera movement throughout the dance numbers.  While I appreciate the difficulty of doing this live, it removed the sense of theatricality I look for in a live musical.

And then there was The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again, which was not live but I guess can kind of be lumped in with these.  I've never been a fan of the movie, outside of a few songs and Tim Curry's performance.  This TV version played like a Rocky Horror-themed episode of Glee.  Nothing to write home about, except for hunky Staz Nair who is the only cast member to eclipse his 1975 counterpart as Rocky (the creature).  While that doesn't sound like such a great feat considering the original actor was a total nonentity, Nair has a blast being both sexy and funny in his role, and this time you fully understand why Frank-n-Furter is so frustrated by him!

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9 hours ago, NickAndNora34 said:

Fun fact: I actually predicted both Hairspray Live and Bye Bye Birdie Live Before they were even announced. It’s fun to try to tell the future with these things. 

They either seem to be going with niche "gay" musicals (ie. Rocky Horror, Hairspray, and Rent's reportedly next), for the core network broadcast-TV audience--Or just falling back on existing musicals that have already been done for recent movie/TV, and which the audience already knows.

Can't sell the audience anything new, y'know.

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The only one of these live NBC musicals I've watched so far in this series was Jesus Christ Superstar starring John Legend.

Overall, I thought it a reasonably well done production, although by about three-quarters through it I noticed I started getting a bit tired of hearing Legend's voice sounding like it was going hoarse on him.

(...the stunt casting of Alice Cooper in the King Herod role was especially pretty cool)

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2 hours ago, EricJ said:

They either seem to be going with niche "gay" musicals (ie. Rocky Horror, Hairspray, and Rent's reportedly next), for the core network broadcast-TV audience--Or just falling back on existing musicals that have already been done for recent movie/TV, and which the audience already knows.

Can't sell the audience anything new, y'know.

WAIT! You're sayin' here that there ARE other kinds of Broadway musicals than THAT???

Dude! It's like you've never watched the Tony Awards in your LIFE here or somethin'!!!

(...c'mon folks...by now you people have to know I can't let easy set-ups like that one go without supplying a punchline, now don't ya?!...and yeah, even tired old punchlines like this one here...and no, I don't think all musicals are "gay")

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5 hours ago, Dargo said:

WAIT! You're sayin' here that there ARE other kinds of Broadway musicals than THAT???

Dude! It's like you've never watched the Tony Awards in your LIFE here or somethin'!!!

(...c'mon folks...by now you people have to know I can't let easy set-ups like that one go without supplying a punchline, now don't ya?!...and yeah, even tired old punchlines like this one here...and no, I don't think all musicals are "gay")

I grew up in upstate NY during the late 70's--The last era of "real" Annie-era classic mainstream Broadway, pre-"Cats", pre-pre "Lion King", and pre-pre-pre-"Kinky Boots".

And we couldn't watch the Star Trek reruns on WPIX-11 without seeing at least one local commercial for "Grease", "A Chorus Line", "The Fantasticks", or that I ❤️N Y commercial where Frank Langella's Dracula loves it especially at night (swoop!)...Oh, AND seeing the original Stephanie Mills cast of "The Wiz" show up on WNEW-5's Wonderama.  Unfortunately, this was still the pre-Koch era, and actually going to NYC to see said shows would have been like going to the moon--And the moon would have been safer, less expensive and more scenic.

So smell freakin' ME if I happen to remember a time when Broadway didn't circle its tribal wagons, sell international logos, or let big studios remarket their cult movies, back when they were the "third" arm of American mainstream entertainment, and provided TV variety shows with their musical content.

And on topic, just be glad they're not showing the sequel, "Bring Back Birdie".  (In which the older Vegas-comeback Conrad Birdie was played by a professional Elvis imitator, who, it turned out, just couldn't parse the whole "Broadway" thing.)

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4 hours ago, EricJ said:

I grew up in upstate NY during the late 70's--The last era of "real" Annie-era classic mainstream Broadway, pre-"Cats", pre-pre "Lion King", and pre-pre-pre-"Kinky Boots".

And we couldn't watch the Star Trek reruns on WPIX-11 without seeing at least one local commercial for "Grease", "A Chorus Line", "The Fantasticks", or that I ❤️N Y commercial where Frank Langella's Dracula loves it especially at night (swoop!)...Oh, AND seeing the original Stephanie Mills cast of "The Wiz" show up on WNEW-5's Wonderama.  Unfortunately, this was still the pre-Koch era, and actually going to NYC to see said shows would have been like going to the moon--And the moon would have been safer, less expensive and more scenic.

So smell freakin' ME if I happen to remember a time when Broadway didn't circle its tribal wagons, sell international logos, or let big studios remarket their cult movies, back when they were the "third" arm of American mainstream entertainment, and provided TV variety shows with their musical content.

And on topic, just be glad they're not showing the sequel, "Bring Back Birdie".  (In which the older Vegas-comeback Conrad Birdie was played by a professional Elvis imitator, who, it turned out, just couldn't parse the whole "Broadway" thing.)

Good reply here, Eric. I get your point.

Just one question however...

I thought it was during the "pre-that dude who had the worst comb-over at the time, talks with a decided lisp AND who is presently making an utter fool of himself defending ANOTHER dude with a really bad comb-over" era when it was unsafe, etc, etc, going to NYC?!!!

YOU know, before Rudy Somethin'-or-other ran the show there in The Big Apple, NOT Koch?!

(...of course then again, during all that time in question here, I lived in sunny and warm Southern California and not any part of New York State like you did and where I hear those winters can be BRUTAL, and so I may have been given some faulty information here, I suppose...remember, that's 3 thousand miles AWAY from there!)

LOL <--yeah yeah, I just tickle myself sometimes, don't I?!

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

Just one question however...

I thought it was during the "pre-that dude who had the worst comb-over at the time, talks with a decided lisp AND who is presently making an utter fool of himself defending ANOTHER dude with a really bad comb-over" era when it was unsafe, etc, etc, going to NYC?!!!

YOU know, before Rudy Somethin'-or-other ran the show there in The Big Apple, NOT Koch?!

Koch in the early 80's cleaned up (to a degree) the mess that Abe Beame made of New York in the Ford-era mid-70's.  Back when Travis Bickle still drove a taxi, Gene Hackman was looking for drug smugglers, and Walter Matthau ran the subways.  

Before Koch pushed tourism as a new industry for the city, even if you were a hundred miles away upstate, you just didn't go to NYC.  PERIOD.  😱  And you sure as heck didn't hang around Times Square.

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10 hours ago, EricJ said:

Koch in the early 80's cleaned up (to a degree) the mess that Abe Beame made of New York in the Ford-era mid-70's.  Back when Travis Bickle still drove a taxi, Gene Hackman was looking for drug smugglers, and Walter Matthau ran the subways.  

Before Koch pushed tourism as a new industry for the city, even if you were a hundred miles away upstate, you just didn't go to NYC.  PERIOD.  😱  And you sure as heck didn't hang around Times Square.

Yep, the first time I ever visited NYC, I was a fresh-faced 20 year old who had just started in the airline biz. And so then being able to fly anywhere in the world for nothin', I decided to fly to JFK and amble around The Big Apple for a few days. This would have been in 1972.

At one point I found myself ambling around Times Square, and so yeah, regarding your whole "Travis Bickle", "Gene Hackman" and "Walter Matthau" analogies here, I do remember seeing quite a few examples of "Joe Buck and Ratso Rizzo" standing around doorways and the sex shop entrances of the then very seedy Times Square area, alright.

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