Entertainment

‘Bye Bye Birdie’ made Richard Jay-Alexander say hello to the arts

Director-writer Richard Jay-Alexander talks to Barbra Streisand before a concert at the Village Vanguard.
Director-writer Richard Jay-Alexander talks to Barbra Streisand before a concert at the Village Vanguard.

Richard Jay-Alexander has been putting words in Barbra Streisand’s mouth and guiding her concert performances for 15 years.

On Monday, the part-time Miami Beach resident will reunite Streisand with her The Way We Were costar Robert Redford at the 42nd Chaplin Award Gala at Lincoln Center, when Redford will be honored for his movie career.

In addition to Streisand (he directed and wrote stage material for her recent Village Vanguard and Back to Brooklyn concerts), the Syracuse-born director/producer/writer has staged concerts for Kristin Chenoweth, Ricky Martin, Bette Midler, Bernadette Peters and more.

Celebrating his 40th year in the arts, Jay-Alexander remembers going with his father to see a Charles Strouse musical. The production was small, but the gift was huge.

“The ‘awakening’ came at 10 years old. I remember it like it was yesterday. My dad took me to see the local high school/church production of Bye Bye Birdie. They had a full orchestra! By the time The Telephone Hour was finished, I was a goner and knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I loved theater and musicals, which led me to music and working with so many musical artists. If you look at who I have worked with, it’s not surprising that I work with actors who sing,” Jay-Alexander, 61, recalls.

Giving back in Miami is a part of the deal.

“I participate in the local arts community as much as I can and go support lots of local theater groups, singers, musicians. There is a lot of talent down here, but it needs to be nurtured, and I do what I can when I can. I see ‘me’ in many young people I meet, and then I have no choice but to help.”

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