Category Archive for: ‘Richard Connema’

A Fun Production of “It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane, It’s Superman

Richard Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

A Fun Production of “It’s a Bird. It’s A Plane…”It’s Superman”

Superman flaps into the Eureka Theatre thanks to the 42nd Street Moon Company. Yes this musical is silly and intentionally camp and it makes few claims to anything grander than spoof. However it’s great fun to watch these energy driven singers and dancer go all out to give a good night of entertainment.
I first saw the musical at the Alvin Theatre in 1966 with Jack Cassidy who played the villain Max, got top billing while Bob Holiday, who played Superman, got last billing above the scenery and costumes credits. Michael O’Sullivan played the mad scientist Dr. Adner. (In this production the name and gender has been changed to Dr. Agnes Sedwick played hilariously by Darlene Popovic).

The score by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams had a striking similarity in their musical “Bye Bye Birdie”. The tongue in cheek script was by Robert Benton and David Newman who went on to write “Bonnie and Clyde”. The critics loved the New York production and it did well at the box office when it somewhat mysteriously closed after only 129 performances. The effects for the 1966 production were ahead of its time. Even ABC did a live telecast of the show in 1976 with Leslie Ann Warren as Lois, David Wayne playing the mad scientist Dr. Adner and David Wilson playing Superman.

Very few regional companies over the year have tried to reproduce the musical however 42nd Street Moon did a production of the musical 2002 with Jackson Davis playing the mad scientist Dr. Adner, Edward Hightower playing Max, Jenny Lord as Lois and Kurt Kroesche as Superman. This cast of young talented players is just as good.

As I said it is a silly plot in today’s world. Indeed the show’s book isn’t much more than a series of thick square frames to prevent the characters from escaping. Having lost the Nobel Prize, mad scientist Dr. Sedwick aims to destroy society’s most potent symbol of good. But since Superman is physically indestructible, the doctor takes a psychological tack by undermining his childish need to appreciate. Meanwhile, the offices of the Daily Planet, Lois Lane is in love with Superman, while Clark Kent, who she ignores pines for her. These conflicts and motivation are exposed in this fast pace production directed by Dyan McBride. As such, Superman, comes off as a cartoon of a cartoon, albeit one with a fun soundtrack.

The production has a thin but solid leading man in Lucas Coleman (Los Angeles actor who appeared in “Sunset Boulevard” at Musical Theatre West and “Accomplice” at La Jolla Playhouse). He skillfully changes his voice from Clark to Superman. He also has good vocal chops singing “Doing Good” and “Strongest Man In the World”. Darlene Popovic (42nd Street regular performer) is sidesplitting as the mad scientist Dr. Agnes Sedgwick. She rocked the house in the show stopper “Revenge”. Brent Schindele (National tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar, “West Side Story” off Broadway, “The Musical of Musical) the jealous theatrical critic Max is appetizingly smarmy as the egomaniacal newspaper columnist Max. He is especially was a delight in his duet with Dr. Sedgwick “You’ve Got What I Need”, an entertaining little vaudeville song.

Lois played by Jen Brooks (International/National touring company of “A Chorus Line” where she played Maggie) has an engaging voice and particularly first rate in the songs “Superman” and “What I’ve Always Wanted”. Safiya Fredericks (New York Fringe “By Hands Unknown” and “Smokey Joe’s Café) gives an invigorating performance as Sydney. She brings down the house singing “Ooh, Do You Love You” to egotistical Max. Trevor Faust Marcom is impressive as Jim Morgan( “Carmelina” at 42nd Street Moon)

Scott Maraj, Steven Sloan, Michael Doppe and Kyle Valentine camp it up as The Amazing Grimaldis. Rounding out the cast were Catherine Gloria, Nicole Renee Chapman, Ariel Leasure and Diahanna Davidson also giving fun performances. Staci Arriaga provided expert matching choreography while David Dobrusky on piano and Nick Di Scala on woodwinds provided good back up.

“It’s Bird….It’s a Plane….It’s Superman” plays through October 20th at the Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco. For tickets please call 415-255-8207 or on line at . Coming up next will be Rodgers and Hart’s “I Married an Angel” opening on October 30 through November 17

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