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BYE BYE BIRDIE’s Nolan Gerard Funk in Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal

September 18, 2009

Hello, ‘Birdie’

A rising young actor plays a teen idol in the coming Broadway musical revival


It’s a case of life hoping to imitate art. “Bye Bye Birdie,” a Broadway musical about a teen idol, features an actor in the title role who’s a rising young star himself.

Nolan Gerard Funk plays Conrad Birdie, a rocker modeled after Elvis Presley, in the revival co-starring John Stamos and Gina Gershon. Since previews began this month, hundreds of autograph-seekers have been waiting at the stage door for a glimpse of Mr. Funk and the others.

“It’s wild out there,” says Todd Haimes, artistic director of the Roundabout Theatre Company, the show’s producer. He says advance ticket sales for “Birdie” are the largest in the Roundabout’s history. Some young fans come bearing DVD copies of “Spectacular!,” a 2009 Nickelodeon TV movie starring Mr. Funk as a hunk of rock ‘n’ roll beefcake who joins the high-school show choir.

Mr. Funk, a 23-year-old Canadian, has friends that add to the pop allure of “Birdie”: Actress Amanda Bynes tweeted that she hopes to come opening night.

The under-18 crowd comprised 12.4% of the Broadway audience in the 2007-08 season, the largest percentage of children and teens in the past 30 years, according to the Broadway League, an industry trade group. “Spring Awakening,” a Tony-winning rock musical that ended its Broadway run in January, drew almost exclusively teens, tweens and their parents (its current national tour is doing the same), and the show spun off budding teen star Lea Michele from the Fox TV show “Glee.”

Click here to read the full article.


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