Jeff has reported on our Friday night outing to see the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington’s all-male performance of Bye Bye Birdie, and I concur that it was a fun show. I knew beforehand that all the roles would be played by men, but had assumed that the roles usually played by women would be done in drag. While, as Jeff notes, that was done for a few roles (notably Mae Peterson and Mrs. Macafee, as well as Kim’s best friend Ursula), the Chorus also took the inspired step of reworking the two female leads–“Rosie” (short for “Roosevelt”) Alvarez and Kim Macafee, the intended recipient of Conrad Birdie’s “last kiss”–as male characters.
And what a world those changes created–in this production, Sweet Apple, Ohio is part of an alternate U.S. where some boys kiss girls, some kiss boys, and some kiss both, and it’s all completely normal, unremarkable and “really sincere.” In the world of this production, even adult married men aren’t immune to the swoon-producing effects of Conrad’s pelvic thrusts.
And the recasting of the Shriner’s meeting as the back room of a leather bar was priceless–this scene, and the hunky actors in it, received some of the night’s loudest applause and obvious audience appreciation.