Review: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane…It’s Superman

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I saw the final night of the ENCORE! concert staging of the Adams/Strouse Superman musical last night and I truly wish I had seen it earlier so I could have written about it earlier and told everyone to go see it because it was a DELIGHT! But the theater was jammed so I guess it didn’t need my rave! (I spotted Joss Whedon among those taking it in!)

Everything about this production was charming and fizzy and fun, starting with the bold splashy sets filled with pop art benday dots and explosions. Originally produced in 1966, this was very much a period piece, but people were a lot more sophisticated in 1966 than we give them credit for, from Lois’s kicky mod dresses to the sly suggestion that Superman is a little more into his celebrity than his heroism might indicate.

The cast was note perfect, from Edward Watts’ strapping, slightly goofy but always sincere Superman; Jenny Powers as a pert, yearning Lois, David Pittu and Will Swenson bringing down the house as a pair of villains.

This musical came out a few months after the campy Batman TV show debuted, a reminder that the DC superheroes were already a significant part of the cultural consciousness. It’s a Bird’s Superman plays on the same kind of cartoonish approach to the idea of the Superhero—both Batman and Superman are just “good guys” who solves petty street crimes and vanquish the occasional wackadoo with an unlikely hairdo—but it’s a lot more amenable to the idea that we need an amazing hero to look up to, even if he is a little bit slow on the uptake about a few things, like romance and mad scientists with evil schemes.

All the singing and dancing and acrobatics were outstanding, and I left the theater humming the tunes…something I could not say about SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK. Different stories for different times.

Anyway, great fun, and I’m really glad I got to see it.

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Comments

  1. I agree that it was delightful.. I imagine I experienced what a night at the theatre was like in 1966. The sets were made from actual comic art, the costumes were so period.Clark Kent’s suit was the exact colors of a 60s comic. I thought it was a shame though that the folks. In the DC Comics licensing department weren’t brave enough or smart enough to allow Superman’s costume to refelect the time period as well. It was so style guide contemporary I could have swore I saw the TM on it.

  2. What was wrong with the costume?

  3. george says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afraEUNiljo

    1975 TV adaptation of the musical. Cheesy and low budget, but interesting.

  4. Torsten Adair says:

    Can we hope for a revival of “The MAD Show”?

    Or perhaps someone can stage Feiffer’s one-act Superman play?
    http://books.google.com/books?id=iL1n3NVJ-6IC&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=%22jules+feiffer%22+superman&source=bl&ots=twewpgdb18&sig=HGp4GxHmKjMaKYkuLvlcZilBvBg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=S9lRUcT8FbXj4AOC74CwBw&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=%22jules%20feiffer%22%20superman&f=false

    Hmmm… maybe I’ll start a “Friends of Poupée” group which stages comics-related performances! Krazy Kat ballet, Zwilich’s “Peanut Gallery”, Starstruck…

Trackbacks

  1. […] A new revival of the Superman musical “It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman” just finished a short run at the New York City Center — to good reviews.  Supermanhomepage.com links to a T.A. Ewart interview with Edward Watts, the production’s Superman (who has now assured himself years of con appearances and direct messages from Superfans on Twitter). [UPDATED: another very positive review at The Beat]. […]

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