It is 1960, and a chorus of young girls energetically sings the praises of rock & roll idol Conrad Birdie. At Almelou Music Corp. in New York, Conrad’s managers, Albert Peterson and Rosie Alvarez (who’ve been dating for years), learn that their client has been inducted into the army. Though she’d prefer that Albert settle down and become “An English Teacher,” Rosie concocts a plan: as a publicity stunt, Conrad will bid a typical American teen-age girl goodbye with a public farewell kiss. Rosie randomly selects the name of the lucky girl: fifteen-year-old Kim McAfee of Sweet Apple, Ohio.
Meanwhile, in Sweet Apple, every teenager in town is on the phone, gossiping about Kim and her new steady, Hugo Peabody (“The Telephone Hour”). Kim, who proudly celebrates her new maturity (“How Lovely To Be A Woman”), is astonished to hear the news about Birdie.
In New York’s Penn Station, Albert cheers up a downcast Birdie fan (“Put On A Happy Face”). Mae, Albert’s overbearing mother, insults Rose, but Albert is unable to stand up to her. Birdie arrives, pursued by reporters, so Albert and Rosie deftly manage the press (“Healthy Normal American Boy”).
In Sweet Apple, Hugo is a bit jealous of the attention Kim pays to Birdie, but Kim assures Hugo he is the “One Boy” for her. On the courthouse steps, the Mayor welcomes Conrad, who bowls everyone over with his powerhouse hit, “Honestly Sincere.”
With Conrad staying for the week, the McAfee household is completely turned upside down. A frustrated Mr. McAfee threatens to put his foot down, until he hears the family will be appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show (“Hymn For A Sunday Evening”). Mae, who followed Albert and Rosie by bus, introduces Albert to a sensational tap-dancer named Gloria Rasputin, whom Albert begrudgingly hires as a typist. Rosie, enraged by Albert’s behavior, enlists the aide of Hugo in a plan to undermine the big show. On The Ed Sullivan Show, Conrad prepares to give Kim “One Last Kiss,” but at the last minute, Hugo steps onstage and punches Conrad, knocking him to the floor. Everyone scatters, and Rosie bids Albert a bitter farewell, leaving him alone on national television. Smiling nervously, Albert desperately tries to recover (“Healthy Normal American Boy” Reprise).
Rosie and Kim, furious at Albert and Hugo, pack up to leave (“What Did I Ever See In Him?”). Albert and Mae make a new plan: Conrad will now kiss Kim at the train station before he leaves. But Conrad is tired of being locked up in a suburban household, and he invites the kids to join him in a wild night out (“A Lot of Livin’ To Do”). Mr. and Mrs. McAfee, fearing the worst, join up with other parents to find their teens (“Kids!”). Mae continues to pester Albert and berate Rosie. Finally, Albert stands up to his mother, demanding that she go home.
At the Ice House, a popular spot for teens, Kim tries to ward off Conrad’s advances. The parents and Hugo arrive just in time, and Kim realises that she belongs with Hugo. Rosie and Albert make up, too, and Rosie has a bit of fun mocking Mae. The next morning, Albert sneaks Conrad out of town and tells Rose he’s accepted a teaching job in Pumpkin Falls, Iowa. Albert and Rose celebrate their new future (“Rosie”) and dance off into the sunset.
ALBERT PETERSON is the president of the Almaelou Music Corporation and is Conrad Birdie’s agent. He is a nervous, excitable man who spends most of his time trying to control the uncontrollable, with quite comic results. Look for an actor with excellent comic timing, a great singing voice and a natural likability. Albert carries much of the story, so choosing an actor who will be comfortable with such a responsibility is crucial —cast your best leading man.
ROSIE ALVAREZ is Albert’s girlfriend and secretary at the Almaelou Music Corporation, who is frustrated with Albert’s inability to commit to her. She is willing to do anything it takes to get Albert to give up the music business and settle down. Headstrong and confident, she is often one step ahead of Albert. Rosie needs to be a strong actor and a great singer. This is definitely a role for a student ready to shine in a leading role. Look for a young lady with tons of charm who can embrace that “go-get-‘em” personality.
MRS. MAE PETERSON is Albert’s controlling mother. She loves her son, despite her disapproval of the way he runs the family business and (especially) his affection for Rosie. She has never stopped parenting Albert, and her mounting frustration throughout the show as Albert begins to stand up to her provides recurring comic relief. This is a non-singing role, so look for an actor with strong comedic timing and the ability to take positive risks in building a strong character.
CONRAD BIRDIE is a teen heartthrob who has been drafted into the army. This character was written with Elvis Presley in mind. He says little but conveys much with his body language, swagger and, of course, his music. This is someone who knows that good looks and a killer smile will get him more than his personality. Look for a great singer/dancer with the ability to keep an over-the-top character alive while singing. This is a great role for a student who has tons of charm and can embody the “teen idol” persona.
KIM MACAFEE is the self-confident young member of Conrad’s fan club who is chosen to receive a kiss from Conrad before he leaves for the Army. She sees herself as more mature than the average teenager. This is a large role for a talented singer and actor, so look for a student with a wholesome, innocent persona who will enjoy letting it go and have some fun along the way.
HUGO PEABODY is Kim’s devoted steady boyfriend who is jealous that Conrad is receiving so much attention from Kim. This is a character-driven, non-singing role, so this is a great role to cast an up-and-coming student who isn’t quite ready to take on a leading role. When casting, think about the juxtaposition between Hugo and Conrad Birdie — casting a strapping Conrad and a diminutive Hugo will offer some great comic moments as the two compete for Kim’s affections.
MR. HARRY MACAFEE is Kim’s father who thinks he’s in control of his family and his teenaged daughter (but isn’t). Mr. MacAfee should be a good actor with a decent singing voice who can find the comedy in his character’s frustration and irritability.
MRS. DORIS MACAFEE is Kim’s loving mother who knows just how to handle her husband and her household. Mrs. MacAfee should be a good actor/singer. When casting, look for the chemistry between Mrs. MacAfee and her husband — this actor should be able to play off of Mr. MacAfee’s gruffness with ease and charm.
URSULA MERKLE is Kim’s best friend and the hyper-enthusiastic teenager who leads the girls in screaming for Conrad. This is a great supporting role to give to an energetic girl who will have fun creating a unique character with a one-of-a-kind voice. In casting, think of contrasting Kim’s “maturity” with Ursula’s youthful enthusiasm.
RANDOLPH MACAFEE is Kim’s younger brother. This is a great small featured role for a younger actor with an unchanged voice who will get to create a fun character with only a few lines.
THE MAYOR is the head figure of Sweet Apple, Ohio, who welcomes Conrad Birdie to town. A bit naïve to the effect Conrad has on the girls of the town, this is a great featured role for an ensemble cast member who can develop a fun character.
THE MAYOR'S WIFE, EDNA, is one of the adults in the show who cannot escape the power of Conrad Birdie’s spell — also a great featured role for an ensemble cast member to have some fun with.
GLORIA RASPUTIN is the dreamy, ambitious knockout whom Mrs. Peterson chooses to replace Rosie. She is looking for her big break in show business and hopes Albert can help her. Often played as a ditzy chorus-girl type, this is a good place to utilize a great tap dancer who will have fun with this featured dance solo and can create a gum-chomping, hair-twirling, larger-than-life character.
MRS. MERKLE is Ursula’s overbearing mother who also gets a touch of Conrad Birdie Fever. Cast a good character actress who can incorporate her character into her singing voice.
HARVEY JOHNSON is a typical nerdy teenager who can’t seem to get enough of the gossip going on in Telephone Hour. Cast a young actor who will have fun developing his character throughout this song and subsequent scenes.
MR. JOHNSON is Harvey’s father and one of the many parents in Sweet Apple desperate to keep control of their children as Conrad Birdie comes to town. This is a small featured part for an ensemble member.
Other TEENAGERS in Sweet Apple include ALICE, DEBORAH SUE, HELEN, NANCY, MARGIE, PENELOPE, SUZIE, FREDDIE, KARL and various other BOYS and GIRLS. Have fun casting these roles out of the ensemble and encourage your actors to create distinct characters.
Other ENSEMBLE roles include a POLICEMAN, various REPORTERS, a CONDUCTOR and a TRAINMAN, and other PARENTS of the Sweet Apple teenagers with featured lines throughout the script. Get everyone involved!