November 20, 2023

Legendary Broadway
composer Charles Strouse
praises MSM Musical Theatre’s production of his Bye Bye Birdie

Composer Charles Strouse (pictured above, center) was an enthusiastic guest earlier this month for a performance and rehearsal of MSM Musical Theatre’s production of his 1960 musical Bye Bye Birdie.

Mr. Strouse, 95, who co-wrote the show with book writer Michael Stewart and lyricist Lee Adams, said he was moved by the students’ commitment to the material, and he praised both the orchestra and the conducting by MSM Musical Theatre Music Director David Loud.

“It’s better than Broadway,” Charles Strouse told his assistant after the show. He added that seeing the MSM production and attending one of its rehearsals was “a highlight of [his] life.”

MSM Dean of Musical Theatre Liza Gennaro has a long relationship with Mr. Strouse that began when her father, legendary choreographer Peter Gennaro, choreographed the composer’s Annie, and continued when she worked on the sequel, Annie 2.

“Having him visit MSM was a great thrill and an honor,” said Dean Gennaro after the performance. “Charles was extremely moved to hear the full orchestrations and our wonderful young musical theatre performers sing his songs. It was an emotional night.”

Photo above: the Broadway legend poses with MSM Musical Theatre students and members of the creative team after the show. Also in the photo, Broadway performer Lee Roy Reams, back row, sixth from left, wearing a black turtleneck.

Read more about the visit below!

NOV 3 to 5, 2023

Book by Michael Stewart
Lyrics by Lee Adams
Music by Charles Strouse

Katie Spelman, Director and Choreographer
David Loud, Music Director

Charles Strouse and MSM Musical Theatre sophomore Isabel Wallach who played one of the orphans in a national tour of Annie, also composed by Mr. Strouse


The composer was an invited guest by MSM Musical Theatre to watch a rehearsal of his musical Bye Bye Birdie with full orchestra in Ades Performance Space in October 2023. He was very happy to attend with his assistants, and watched with great enthusiasm while sitting next to Dean of Musical Theatre Liza Gennaro.

Mr. Strouse spent time afterwards giving his praise to the cast, the musicians, and the creative team. Enjoy this selection of photos from the visit below:

SLIDE SHOW: Composer Charles Strouse takes part in a rehearsal for Bye Bye Birdie


The production ran for four performances from November 3 to 5 to near sold-out crowds. Read a selection of audience reactions by clicking on the dropdown menu below.

Meet Niko Charney (BM ’25), a featured performer in Bye Bye Birdie:

Watch the video preview of Bye Bye Birdie at Manhattan School of Music:

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