HALLOWELL – Nobody likes to go off to war just as his career is taking off, but Conrad Birdie feels it is his duty. The Al-Mae-Lou Music Company wishes he didn’t. And the cast of “Bye Bye, Birdie,” Gaslight Theater’s musical production of the 2008 season, wants to tell you why.

“Bye Bye, Birdie” is a classic of the American musical theater, with the book by Michael Stewart, lyrics by Lee Adams and music by Charles Strouse. Set in New York and Sweet Apple, Ohio, the show ran for more than 600 performances between April 14, 1960 and Oct. 7, 1961.

The show begins in the New York offices of the Al-Mae-Lou Music Company, named after Al Peterson; Mae, his mother; and Lou, a dearly departed dog. Birdie, a singer modeled after Elvis Presley, is going to join the army. As a publicity gimmick, Al decides to have a contest to select a fan to get Conrad’s goodbye kiss. Kim MacAfee of Sweet Apple, Ohio, is the lucky winner and, for a few days, family life and love lives in Sweet Apple are topsy-turvy.

The show won the Tony for Best Musical in 1961. It opened with a high-powered cast, including Chita Rivera, Dick van Dyke, Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Riley. Van Dyke won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor.

Songs include “An English Teacher,” “What Did I Ever See in Him?” “Put on a Happy Face,” “One Boy,” “A Lot of Livin’ to Do,” “Kids,” “Rosie” and “Spanish Rose.”

Show dates are June 19-21 and June 26-29, with Gaslight’s first matinee performance in many years. Shows will start at 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at Hallowell City Hall. Tickets are $10. Call 626-3698.

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