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.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.