|Photo by Joan Marcus|
Encores! continues its 20th anniversary season with Lee Adams & Charles Strouse's It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman, the 1966 musical which Harold Prince produced and directed just prior to Cabaret. The show was a quick failure in its time, but in its present incarnation Superman leaps, bounds and soars.
Leading the way is a brightly tune-filled score, in some ways a musically-updated companion to the authors' 1960 hit, Bye Bye Birdie. Superman is a comic-strip musical, not only based on a strip but constructed in broad strokes with breathless, comic-book dialogue. There is even a second-act scene — leading to the climax — that takes place in six separate comic-book panes, which is simply but effectively staged here.
Director John Rando (A Christmas Story, Urinetown) captures just the right tone for this spiffed-up concert version: the music, the cast and the physical production all work together to create two hours of drolly off-beat joy. Edward Watts, who earlier this season had the ignominious task of playing Adam-with-fig-leaf as Aimee Semple McPherson's lover in Scandalous, makes a fine showing as the invulnerable but conflicted "man of steel." He is matched by Jenny Powers (Little Women) as a feisty Lois Lane.
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