Bye Bye Birdie June 24 - Sept. 8

Playing the role of Army-bound rock star Conrad Birdie at Goodspeed Opera House

Music by Charles Strouse | Lyrics by Lee Adams | Book by Michael Stewart
Directed by Jenn Thompson | Choreographed by Patti Wilcox

What the critics are saying

"Conrad’s driving guitar licks and gyrating pelvis… belong to the formidable Rhett Guter.

A POWERHOUSE CAST…At the top of the list is, of course, the pompadoured Mr. Guter, a terrific dancer whose Conrad is every bit the cocky, preening teen idol. Oozing both smarm and charm, Mr. Guter manages to twitch sexily even with his back to the audience, and he has the stamina to sing lustily even after leading the Sweet Apple teenagers down the primrose path to hedonism in the exuberant dance break of 'A Lot of Livin’ to Do.'

- The New York Times

"As played by the riveting, feral Rhett Guter, this Birdie is as bemused by the suburban bliss of Sweet Apple, Ohio, as its denizens are by his hip-swaying histrionics.

"The show-stopper is the multi-part ensemble-dance odyssey of 'I've Got a Lot of Livin' to Do,' but Conrad also brings down the house — heck, decimates an entire town — with his earth-shakin' rendition of 'Honestly Sincere' in Act One."

- The Hartford Courant

"In the title role, Rhett Guter (Conrad Birdie) shows off some spot on dance moves and convincing vocals that made me believe he was actually the rock star he played on stage."

- Broadway World

"The actors are TOPNOTCH!… Rhett Guter, as Conrad Birdie, does not imitate Elvis Presley but wisely invents a young star who is friendly and likable. It's easy to see why he attracts many…"

- Talkin' Broadway

"Rhett Guter, who preens and charms as he portrays Elvis-like luminary Conrad Birdie, leads the way in the wonderfully kinetic 'Honestly Sincere,' in which Guter performs like a rock star should (and the female characters shriek and swoon appropriately), and on 'A Lot of Livin' to Do,' where all the youngsters crow about their desire to live to the fullest."

- The New London Day

"Then there’s Birdie. The show progresses for some time with mentions of Birdie, pictures of Birdie, and arguments about Birdie. But no Conrad Birdie. When he finally appeared, I didn’t know what to expect. He had arrived in Sweet Apple and was about to perform. Rhett Guter, as Conrad, did not disappoint. Wow. He sang the satirical Honestly Sincere with all the cunning he could muster and, get this, had nailed the Elvis Presley hip and leg moves. And, he really opened up in Act 2 with A Lot of Livin’ To Do."

- Theatre Circuit WMNR Fine Arts Radio

"Rhett Guter is a standout as the man of the hour… Think James Dean Meets Elvis Presley. Think bad boy merges with heartthrob. Think wild teenage girls mooning and moaning over singing sensation with swivel hips and sassy lips aplenty. Come meet Conrad Birdie, the star of the smash musical “Bye Bye Birdie” flying high at Goodspeed!"

- The Middletown Press

"The performances were energetic and lots of fun, especially Rhett Guter as the slick, hip-swiveling Conrad Birdie."

- Westfield News

"a Presley-like Conrad Birdie (here played by Rhett Guter, who makes us understand what all the fuss is about, and then some)"

- Shoreline Times

"Guter has Birdie down pat from his sexy, snide grin to his spacey disconnect with reality. He doesn’t say one word until halfway through the first act when he belts out 'Honestly Sincere' making the number all the funnier as Birdie suddenly comes to life full force in the school auditorium, scattering the celebrity-crazed students into the audience where they dance up a storm in the aisles and eventually collapse."

- Guilford Courier

"When Conrad sings 'Honestly Sincere' Mr. Guter teases the audience with his sexy moves and flirtatious attitude. He goes all-out to outshine Elvis’s swivel hipped gyrations. He and the kids are even more exciting in the second act in the brilliantly choreographed 'A Lot of Livin’ to Do,' an exuberant scene that shows off more of Mr. Guter’s talents as a finely trained dancer.

"Having seen Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway three times, in the film version (awful -- it should have been titled Bye Bye Ann Margaret), and in regional theater twice, these reviewers have concluded that the multi-talented Mr. Guter’s 'Birdie' is the best interpretation of the heart-throb - ever."

- Critics On The Aisle

"Rhett Guter makes his Goodspeed debut in the title role of Conrad Birdie, whose character name is a wordplay on the name of the singer Conway Twitty. A Utah native, Mr. Guter played the heartthrob flawlessly and boy, did he look the part. Off stage at the home of the MacAfee family, he was enough of an awful houseguest without crossing the line to insufferable, making it hard not to like the character. 'Honestly Sincere' and 'One Last Kiss' were two of the strongest parts of the production."

- OnStage

"Casting is spot-on. Guter renders Conrad Birdie’s two-sided character exceptionally well. On cue, he is the hip-thrusting, gyrating teen heartthrob, who makes even the mayor’s wife swoon and faint. Behind the scenes, he is the MacAfees’ selfish and rude house guest. Guter’s performance of “Honestly Sincere” sends screaming, frenzied teens into the aisles to the audience’s delight."

- In the Spotlight

"…watching the devastatingly handsome Rhett Guter as Conrad Birdie, shaking his hips like there’s no tomorrow, one can’t help but put on a happy face, a refreshing gift really, that makes this Birdie much more than welcome."

- Stage Buddy

"They didn’t name it 'Bye Bye Birdie' for nothing. At Goodspeed, the latest revival of the teen favorite is especially endearing when Rhett Guter, as rock ‘n’ roll heartthrob Conrad Birdie, appears. Doing a sly yet affectionate take-off on the likes of Elvis Presley, Guter thrusts his hips, pumps his arms and gleefully lets us in on the joke in this jazzy, tuneful, funny production.

"From his first 'pow' entrance to his swoon-inducing 'Honestly Sincere' to his sensational 'A Lot of Livin’ to Do,' Guter is magnetic, drawing the ensemble to him

"…No one ever claimed 'Bye Bye Birdie' a work of art. But its insouciance is beguiling and, in this production, it rings the bell with Rhett Guter."

- David Rosenberg, CT Critics Circle

"It’s that title character to look for in the snappy revival of 'Bye Bye Birdie' currently delighting audiences throughout the summer at the Goodspeed Opera House. With the moves of Elvis Presley and the persona of James Dean, actor Rhett Guter blows the roof off the Goodspeed…

"Best of all is Mr. Guter, who simply slays the audience with his first act showstopper, 'Honestly Sincere' and then tops that performance with the exuberant 'A Lot of Livin’ to Do' in the second act, showing the teens of Sweet Apple what they’ve been missing. Guter has star quality that often propels the show to the stratosphere whenever he appears. The musical could use more of him!"

- Tom Holehan, CT. Critics Circle

"Also, Goodspeed Opera House could not have found a better Conrad Birdie than Rhett Guter. He is quite believable as the kind of idol that young girls would scream over, and both his 'One Last Kiss' and 'A Lot of Livin’ to Do' songs have the kind of sexual energy needed for this role."

- Zander Opper, CT Critics Circle

"Rhett Ghuter as the charismatic, hip-shaking Birdie is flat-out phenomenal. He embodies the role as if it were made for him. He balances the fine line between bringing us some of the smooth and smoldering Elvis signature moves, without becoming too flamboyant. His character is both desirable and undesirable at the same time, and he completely nails 'Honestly Sincere'"

- Stephanie C Lyons, CT Critics Circle

"I must begin with the casting of Conrad Birdie, the 'Elvis' character. While I liked Jesse Pearson in the film, I always thought his portrayal was campy and a caricature of the real Elvis. Indeed, he was not that far removed from the plethora of Elvis impersonators I’ve seen over the years. I am thrilled to say that Rhett Guter made Conrad Birdie his own. He was knock-down, drag-out wonderful as the self-involved gyrating rocker. He killed it in the 'Honestly Sincere' musical number. He had another show-stopping moment in 'A Lot of Livin’ to do.'"

- Wayne Keeley, CT. Critics Circle

"Rhett Guter, with swiveling hips ablaze, is self-assured, high octane, and also detached as rock and roller Conrad Birdie."

- Stuart Brown, CT. Critics Circle

"Rhett Guter, who’s charming smile resembles that of James Dean, nails his rock star role."

- Marlene S. Gaylinn, CT Critics Circle