It's a Bird …; It's a Plane …; It's Superman
A Musical Comedy in 2 Acts, 18 Scenes. Book by David Newman and Robert Benton. Based on the comic strip "Superman.°'" Music by Charles Strouse. Lyrics by Lee Adams.
Alvin Theatre, Broadway - Opened 29th March, 1966 : closed 17th July, 1966 (129 perfs)
Superman, the Man of Steel, knows that his goal in life is doing good, an inescapable task imposed on him because he is a superhero. His feats are the stuff young damsels dream of, and tall among them stands Lois Lane, star reporter at the Planet, who ignores Kent's advances and dreams only of being loved by Superman, unaware that they are one and the same. Lois's admiration for Superman is not shared by everyone at the paper, least of all by theatrical columnist Max Mencken, who has little patience for the hero or for his incredible feats. Despite Max's sarcastic comments about the object of her dreams, Lois is undaunted in her feelings for the strong, silent type and closes her eyes and heart to the advances of handsome .lim Morgan, a lab assistant, who obviously has a crush on her.
Dr. Abner Sedgwick, professor at the respectable M.I.T. (Metropolis Institute of Technology) and a ten-time Nobel-Prize loser, is bent on revenge for all the indignities he's suffered from the scientific community and has vowed to destroy the world's symbol of goodness, you guessed it!, Superman.
Max Mencken has his eye on Lois and attempts to seduce her with a typical song-and-dance routine straight out of the Broadway musicals he reviews for the Planet. As for Sydney, Max's pert secretary, she has developed a crush on Clark Kent and vainly attempts to change his square personality. Lois, however, appears increasingly lost: on the one hand, she pants for the only one apparently not interested in her, Superman, who even though he's already saved her life fifteen times has yet to utter a word of endearment to her; and, on the other hand, she is pursued by several men with obvious ulterior motives, but not one of them turns her on, all of which sends her into a moment of total despair.
Having invited Superman to the inauguration of the M.I.T. physics hall, which has been named for the superhero, Dr. Sedgwick then subjects him to a session of psychoanalysis that leaves the invincible man from outer space broken down. But while the dedication ceremony is going on, the platform on which the speakers are standing collapses, and Superman must support it. Taking advantage of Superman's momentary incapacity, Dr. Sedgwick blows up Metropolis's City Hall.
Humbling Superman, however, is not suf ficient. Using a newly invented computer and his knowledge of behavioural engineering, Dr. Sedgwick wants Superman dead. And to accomplish this, he has devised a plan so evil, so nasty, so devilishly clever that the world will finally have to recognise that he, Dr. Sedgwick, is, indeed, a great scientist. At the Planet, Max has similar feelings toward the Man of Steel. In his column he tears his rival apart with obvious rel ish and gloats over Superman's evident inability to protect City Hall, thinking that his insidious remarks will eventually prompt his readers to turn away from the strongman. Max's attacks and the Doctor's experimental tampering with his psyche have begun to take effect: Superman questions the very tenets of his life as a Saviour of Humanity .
Sydney, now aware of her boss's terrible vanity, tells him so in no uncertain terms but Max is too infatuated with himself to listen. Knowing that the Professor shares his hatred of Superman, he forms an uneasy alliance with Sedgwick.
To achieve their common goal, Max and Sedgwick have Lois abducted by an acrobatic team, the Lings, and brought to a power station where they set up a trap for Superman. Is it the end of the strongest man in the world? Lois gamely accepts her fate, knowing that her knight in a scarlet cape will soon come to save her. As if on cue, Superman arrives, fighting like the devil in a mad ballet that sends his opponents flying in all directions. Sedgwick inadvertently electrocutes himself, simultaneously discovering electricity and what not to do with it. Lois is safe, but before she has a chance to tell Superman how much she appreciates what he's done for her, off he hurries, "up, up and away!" allegedly to stop a dangerous missile heading for Metropolis.
(in order of appearance):
- Superman/Clark Kent
- Max Mencken
- Lois Lane
- Perry White
- Dr. Abner Sedgewick
- Jim Morgan
- Father Ling
- Dong Ling
- Tai Ling
- Fan Po Ling
- Ming Foo Ling
- Joe Ling
- Suspects (5)
Citizens of Metropolis:
- Byron, the Bank Guard:
- Harvey, the Tour Guide
- Bonnie, the Moll
- Sue-Ellen, the Teenager
- Mamie, the Model
- Gordon, the Student
- Annette, the Secretary
- Wanda, the Waitress
- Rosalie, the High School Girl
- Leslie. the Shopper
- Cathy, the Child
- Barbie, the Receptioinst
- AI, the Bank Robber
- Milton, the Hood
- Kevin, the College Boy
- William, the Exchange Student
- Doing Good - Superman/Clark Kent
- We Need Him - Max, Lois Lane, Superman/Clark Kent, Company
- It's Superman - Lois Lane
- We Don't Matter At All - Jim, Lois Lane
- Revenge - Abner
- The Woman For the Man - Max
- You've Got Possibilities - Sydney
- What I've Always Wanted - Lois Lane
- Revenge (reprise) - Abner
- Everything's Easy When You Know How - The Flying Lings
- It's Super Nice - The Company
- So Long, Big Guy - Max
- The Strongest Man in the World - Superman/Clark Kent
- Ooh, Do You Love You! - Sydney
- You've Got What I Need - Max, Abner
- It's Superman (reprise) - The Company
- I'm Not Finished Yet - Lois Lane
- Powl Bam! Zonk! - Superman/Clark Kent, the Flying Lings
Scenes and Settings
The action takes place in and around the city of Metropolis, U.S.A. at the present time.
- Scene 1: Outside the Chase-Metropolis Bank.
- Scene 2: The Office of The Daily Planet.
- Scene 3: A Telephone Booth.
- Scene 4: The Nuclear Ractor at M.I.T.
- Scene S: The Offices of The Daily Planet.
- Scene 6: Dr. Sedgewick's Study.
- Scene 7: The Screening Room.
- Scene 8: Dr. Sedgewick's Home.
- Scene 9: The Offices of The Daily Planet.
- Scene 10: Atop City Hall Tower.
- Scene 11: The M.I.T. Dedication Grounds.
- Scene 1: The Front Page, one week later.
- Scene 2: Clark Kent's Apartment.
- Scene 3: A Street in Metropolis.
- Scene 4: Dr. Sedgewick's Laboratory.
- Scene 5: Meanwhile.
- Scene 6: An Abandoned Power Station outside Metropolis.
- Scene 7: The Power Station, next morning.