NBC’s ‘Bye Bye Birdie Live!’ scheduled for 2017 recently announced its directors: Jerry Mitchell and Alex Rudzinski.
Previously announced is that Jennifer Lopez will star as Rosie and executive produce alongside Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Benny Medina, Craig Zadan, and Neil Meron.
As the production date starts to grow near, audiences are starting to voice suggestions for additional casting.
One name to have come up recently in the press, is Nick Jonas – a bonafide pop star and Broadway alum.
In a live interview with Watch What Happens Live, when a listener suggested Jonas for the role of Conrad Birdie, Lopez responded that they are looking at many different people right now, and Jonas is definitely on the list.
Jonas is best known as one of the Jonas Brothers, a band formed with he and his brothers Kevin and Joe. He has appeared in films such as ‘Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian’ and ‘Careful What You Wish For.’ Stage performances include ‘Les Miserables’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, and ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying.’
As Lopez alluded to in the interview, Jonas is a prime candidate to play Birdie, but not the only one in consideration.
In 2016 when the ‘Bye Bye Birdie Live!’ project was first announced, Theatermania.com offered the casting suggestion of Zac Efron as Birdie. Although Efron has the looks and talent to offer a knockout performance as Birdie, industry speculation is that he is committed to his blossoming film career and would not be looking to do a television project such as this.
JLOByeByeBirdie.com also offered up suggestions of Adam Pascal, Darren Criss, and Rikki Lee Travolta for the role of Birdie.
Pascal is a Broadway veteran whose credits include ‘Rent’, ‘Aida’, ‘Cabaret’, ‘Memphis’, ‘Chicago, Disaster’, and ‘Something Rotten.’
Criss sprang to fame on the television series ‘Glee’, but is also a seasoned Broadway star with starring appearances in ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying’ and ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch.’
Travolta is, perhaps, the most interesting casting suggestion. Travolta was the first celebrity guest star in ‘Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding’ and in 2005 was named alongside Donny Osmond and Patrick Cassidy as one of the Top Three Headliners in the world for ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’. However Travolta ending up in the hospital and opted to take a break from his performing career to focus on rehabilitation from a life-changing disability.
In 2016 Travolta made a triumphant return to the stage as McMurphy in a Midwest revival of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, earning rave reviews on his “come back.” For the role, he was nominated as best actor for a Broadway World Chicago Theatre Award.
He may be a longshot, but you can’t help rooting for the guy. Plus, casting an actor like Travolta could be good PR for NBC, showing a willingness to work with the disabled.
On March 27, Jonas responded to the rumors of his joining JLo in the cast of ‘Bye Bye Birdie Live!’ stating that the two had talked but warned that it may or may not happen.
As audiences eagerly await notification of who will be starring alongside JLo in NBC’s ‘Bye Bye Birdie Live!’, other popular names will likely be suggested. In the end, the expectations for the live musical telecast are high.