The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
It's A Bird... It's A Plane... It's Superman
If you're interested in what made Superman what it is, here's one of the keys to what made it universally acceptable. Joe and I had certain inhibitions... which led to wish-fulfillment which we expressed through our interest in science fiction and our comic strip. That's where the dual-identity concept came from. —Joe Shuster, artist and co-creator with writer Jerry Siegel.
Edward Watts in City Center Encores' It's A Bird... It's A Plane... It's Superman
(Photo: Joan Marcus)

Superman has been interpreted by scholars as a symbol of everything from political zeitgeist, society, a mythic hero and a savior. Happily, the City Center Encores! production wants none of that. Encores!' revival of It's a Bird… It's a Plane… It's Superman, is as foolish and funny as a comic book, with imaginative bright staging by John Rando and a first-rate cast.

The book by David Newman and Robert Benton is slight and will not leave you guessing what's next. But you'll find all the usual suspects — bad guys, good guys, man-hungry girls and the big guy himself.

Superman, played by Edward Watts ( Scandalous ), is a hunk with a heart. If he had room for a pocket in his tight blue costume with the signature "S" on his chest, the audience would tuck itself right in there with the first "Up, up and away," as he runs up a ramp and off stage.

Especially crowd-pleasing is the one-dimensional cut-out of the Man of Steel flying across the sky. No wires, no stunts, no flying humans and no need for them. This is a moving comic book without pretense to be anything more.

Superman's nemesis is Dr. Abner Sedgwick (David Pittu), a hyperactive Rumpelstilskin scientist, almost stamping his feet in frustration as he demands revenge because he's never won the Nobel Prize. He joins sleazy gossip columnist, Max Mencken (Will Swenson) to uncover Superman's real identity. This shouldn't be hard since Max works for the same newspaper, The Daily Planet, as his mild-mannered, bespeckled alter-ego Clark Kent. Also at the newspaper is spunky gal reporter, Lois Lane (Jennie Powers), who lusts after Superman (but not Clark Kent) who has saved her life numerous times.

The original production of Superman opened at the Alvin Theatre in 1966 for a lackluster run until the summer heat shut it down. Composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Lee Adams had scored in 1960 with Bye, Bye, Birdie. Their Superman music, while zesty, does not match Birdie's memorable tunes. However, the deliveries are smart and confident.

Both Powers' Lois and Alli Mauzey as Sydney, Max Mencken's pepperpot assistant, have secure rich belts and well-honed comic instincts. When Lois, disillusioned in her quest for Superman, meets scientist, Jim Morgan (Adam Monley), she decides there are upsides to being a housewife and is heartfelt singing, "What I've Always Wanted." Sidney has her eye on Max while Max's eye is only on himself. She lets him know, however, "You've Got Possibilities," which was the original show's only successful song. She is especially a stand-out here with, "Ooh, Do You Love You!"

As Max, Will Swenson is a captivating scene-stealer, wrenching every unctuous facet from his smarmy moments on stage. You gotta love him. He joins Dr. Sedgwick in a brassy, over-the-top Las Vegas song and dance, "You've Got What I Need," complete with a sequined curtain. In contrast, Watts plays an admirable Man of Steel dedicated to, "Doing Good," right out of the comic pages. You will glimpse another side to the superhero, in his doleful, "Why Can't the Strongest Man in the World (Be the happiest man in the world?)."

John Lee Beatty's set is a Crayola cartoon Metropolis with sizzling lighting by Ken Billington. The pop-art simplicity is clean-edged imagination and rings true. Boosting the Sixties look are Paul Tazewell's on-target, bright mini-skirts for Lois and various cast members in Jackie shifts and haute couture.

Choreographer Joshua Bergasse ( Smash ) brings back snippets of the dance moves of the era and also brings in an acrobatic dance troupe, "The Flying Lings," Craig Henningsen, Suo Liu, Jason Ng and Scott Weber. They are not all that necessary but fun to watch.

Music director Rob Berman's orchestra percolates with Eddie Sauter's original orchestrations and everything moves crisply under John Rando's direction that is guided by a sense of fun and comedy.

It’s a Bird ... It’s a Plane ... It’s Superman
Music by Charles Strouse; lyrics by Lee Adams; book by David Newman and Robert Benton; based on the comic strip “Superman”
Directed by John Rando
Choreography by Joshua Bergasse
Cast: Alli Mauzey (Sydney), Adam Monley (Jim Morgan), David Pittu (Dr. Abner Sedgwick), Jenny Powers (Lois Lane), James Saito (Father Ling), Will Swenson (Max Mencken), Edward Watts (Superman/Clark Kent) and Craig Henningsen, Suo Liu, Jason Ng and Scott Weber (the Flying Lings). WITH: Alli Mauzey (Sydney), Adam Monley (Jim Morgan), David Pittu (Dr. Abner Sedgwick), Jenny Powers (Lois Lane), James Saito (Father Ling), Will Swenson (Max Mencken), Edward Watts (Superman/Clark Kent) and Craig Henningsen, Suo Liu, Jason Ng and Scott Weber (the Flying Lings). Sets by John Lee Beatty
Costumes by Paul Tazewell
Lighting by Ken Billington
Sound by Nevin Steinberg
Concert adaptation by Jack Viertel
Music coordinator, Seymour Red Press
Stage manager, Tripp Phillips
New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street, Manhattan, (212) 581-1212,
Through Sunday 3/24/13
Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors at 3/23/13 matinee.
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • Doing Good/ Superman/Clark Kent
  • We Need Him /Max Mencken, Lois Lane, Superman/Clark Kent and Company
  • It's Superman / Lois Lane
  • We Don't Matter at All / Jim Morgan and Lois Lane
  • Revenge /Dr. Abner Sedgwick
  • The Woman for the Man / Max Mencken
  • You've Got Possibilities /Sydney
  • What I've Always Wanted /Lois Lane
  • Revenge (Reprise) /Dr. Abner Sedgwick
  • Everything's Easy When You Know How /The Flying Lings
  • It's Super Nice /Company
Act Two
  • So Long, Big Guy / Max Mencken
  • The Strongest Man in the World /Superman/Clark Kent
  • Ooh, Do You Love You! /Sydney
  • You've Got What I Need / Max Mencken and Dr. Abner Sedgwick
  • It's Superman (Reprise) /Company
  • I'm Not Finished Yet / Lois Lane
  • Pow! Bam! Zonk! /Superman/Clark Kent and
  • The Flying Lings
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Encores' It's A Bird... It's A Plane... It's Superman
  • I disagree with the review of Encores' It's A Bird... It's A Plane... It's Superman
  • The review made me eager to see Encores' It's A Bird... It's A Plane... It's Superman
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

Visit Curtainup's Blog Annex
For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
Slings & Arrows cover of new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free

Anything Goes Cast Recording Anything Goes Cast Recording
Our review of the show

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

©Copyright 2013, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from