A Musical Education Backstage at the Theatre
Ann Margaret as "Kim"
Historic Moments SERIES
You have to understand the time. It was the 60's and Dylan was brand new. And the Beatles, you were just waiting to see what John and Paul were going to come out with, from month to month, album to album. The Beach Boys were just explosive and the Stones were doing their controversial thing. No one can understand that time. Even WE did not understand that time. At the time, it was just all the new groups coming out with their stuff.
Elvis was already an Icon -
Elvis was already passe. It was the early 60's and he was over. Keep in mind, he had not yet gone to Las Vegas. You have to understand history, not by looiking down the train, as it comes to you, but AT the train as the cars cross your path. Its hard to get this, but "Bye Bye Birdie" was a musical that immortalized Elvis's memory.
So there I am, my father is directing this hit musical from New York and Kathy Kilgallen played
"Kim". Kathy was beautiful, but KIM was absolutely MYTHIC!
My father made me the Stage Manager. At the age of 17, and still in high school, I was in charge of all the light cues, all the sound cues, all the actor placements calls, alll the scene changes, and all the curtain calls. It was nerve racking and full of pressure, but the great thing was that Kathy was enchanted with me. Or, I thought she was. And Kathy was kissing me!
Neil Diamond and "Cherry Cherry" -
To me and many people, Neil was a kind of Elvis. Neil was a dynamic writer and singer. Neil was powerful and in the middle of the "Bye Bye Birdie" identity, he was super young at the time. Now, you think of him as ancient, then he was dramatically young. And still, he was competing with all of the above artists. Somehow Neil was an Elvis and Birdie combo. Its hard to explain. When "Cherry Cherry" came out, he was that combination. it was a melding of those three identities.
And Kathy Kissed Me -
Keep in mind, Kathy was playing the star role. I was the Stage Manager. The guy playing Birdie was older and good looking. And guess what, I was kissing Kathy and Kathy was kissing me. Kathy was not kissing Birdie after rehearsels, she was kissing me. The guy playing Birdie, in a way, was just like Elvis himself --- passe, over, done, kaput.
As Neil sang, "Cherry, Cherry", (a type of Elvis), he made us think of Elvis. The musical was LOADED with Elvis images, and yet, Birdie was DONE, and the musical that Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore starred in in New York, was a "look back", but only a "look back" of a ferw years.
"Oh One Last Kiss - It Never Was Like This, No Never Was Like this, You Know I Need Your Love --- Oh Oh Oh - Give Me One Last Kiss" -
At this strange moment in time, I was kissing Kathy, BECAUSE I was NOT Birdie. But we were all going NUTS over "Bye Bye Birdie". And Neil Diamond was somehow the one who brought it all together. And I did not know I was going through ALL of this until decades later! When Birdie sang the above song, I was looking into Kathy's eyes. I was the Stage Manager, so when she was on stage, stage left; she was looking at me, while pretending to look in Birdie's eyes. Oh, my "Gaawwd", it still takes my breath away. Long live Neil, Elvis, Kathy and Birdie.
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