It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman



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Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Lee Adams
Book by David Newman and Robert Benton
(Based Upon the Comic Strip "SUPERMAN")
Broadway Production Produced by Harold Prince
In Association with Ruth Mitchell
Directed for the Broadway Stage by Harold Prince


"ITíS A BIRDÖ ITíS A PLANEÖ ITíS SUPERMAN" is the tale of Supermanís efforts to defeat a vengeful scientist who seeks to destroy the worldís symbol of good. Additionally, there is tension between Superman and a columnist for the Daily Planet newspaper because of the superheroís attraction to Lois Lane.


"ITíS A BIRD... ITíS A PLANE... ITíS SUPERMAN" played for 129 performances on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre starring Jack Cassidy, Patricia Marand, Linda Lavin, Michael OíSullivan and Don Chastain.


It seems like a typical day in Metropolis: some bank robbers attempt to knock over the local vault, Superman flies out of the sky and captures them, and the citizens feel wonderfully safe. But there are darker plots brewing.

After Superman tells the audience about his credo (Iíll never stop doing good), he changes into his disguise, that of mild-mannered Shipping News reporter Clark Kent. At the Daily Planet, the newspaper where he works, Clark once again is rebuffed by the beautiful girl reporter Lois Lane who has eyes only for Superman. Unfortunately, Lois is the victim of unrequited love.

On this particular day, there arrives a visitor in great perturbation. He is Dr. Abner Sedgwick, renowned nuclear genius from M.I.T. and he tells Lois that he must get Superman immediately to halt an atomic reactor which has gone out of control.

Superman (who overheard the problem with his super-hearing) arrives at M.I.T. and enters the radioactive chamber and soon sets it aright. Sedgwick confesses to the audience that he is a miserable ten-time Nobel Prize loser and has attempted to destroy Superman as his revenge on the world. Back at the Daily Planet, gossip columnist Max Mencken has concocted a plan to reveal the identity of Superman to the world, thus making himself the townís real hero. He has gathered together the six most likely Superman suspects and planted a ticking bomb in the office. Fortunately, Clark Kent wanders into the room and is able to stop the danger without revealing himself.

In the meantime, Sedgwick demolishes the City Hall, and the public, led by Max, turns against Superman. The Man of Steel is crushed by this fickle behavior, and all the more so when Lois stops by to give him a friendly brush-off. The only thing left for him is to try to enjoy being Clark Kent. Sedgwick constructs a mammoth computer called Braniac 7 to aid him in uncovering Supermanís secret identity, but the machine comes up with the wrong answer: Max Mencken. After Max and Sedgwick meet, the error is discovered, and the two decide to join up in villainy. Max tricks his secretary into inviting Clark to a party, having guessed that Clark is the real Superman, and when the party turns out to be a trap at an abandoned warehouse, all seems lost. Lois has been kidnapped and held hostage, so there is nothing Clark can do but admit everything and listen to Sedgwick. There follows the complete and total psychoanalysis of Superman, in which the evil doctor completely brainwashes our hero by questioning his values. Superman is crushed and beaten.

Finally Superman comes to his senses. He does so in a spectacular fight which ends in the death of Sedgwick (fried on a hot wire) and the final humiliation for Max. Max tries to tell people that Clark is Superman, but no one will believe a word of it. And for Lois comes, at last, a confession of a sort of super-love from the Man of Steel himself.


Full Orchestration:

1 Reed I: Piccolo, Flute & Clarinet
1 Reed II: Flute & Clarinet
1 Reed III: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet (or Tenor Sax.) & Tenor Saxophone
1 Reed IV: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
1 Reed V: Clarinet, Bassoon (or Baritone Sax.) & Baritone Saxophone
1 Trumpet I & II
1 Trumpet III
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
1 Bass Trombone III & Tuba
1 Percussion I & II:
  • Timpani(2 drums)
  • Snare Drum
  • Bass Drum
  • Tom Toms
  • Conga Drum
  • Bongo Drums
  • Temple Blocks
  • Cymbals (large & small suspended)
  • Vibraphone
  • Marimba
  • Cowbell
  • Slapstick
  • Anvil
  • Wood Block
  • Glockenspiel
  • Hi-hat Cymbals
  • Finger Cymbals
  • Chinese Crash Cymbals
  • Hand Cymbals
  • Tam Tams (large & small)
  • Xylophone
  • Ratchet
  • Tambourine
  • Scratcher
  • Triangle
  • Bell Tree
  • Claves
  • Elephant Bells
  Organ-Celeste (Organ-conductorís Score sent with rehearsal material)
1 Bass


Viola I & II


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