It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman®


IT’S A BIRD… IT’S A PLANE… IT’S SUPERMAN® is the tale of Superman’s efforts to defeat a vengeful scientist, Dr. Abner Sedgwick, who seeks to destroy the world’s symbol of good. Additionally, there is tension between Superman and a columnist for the Daily Planet newspaper because of the superhero’s attraction to Lois Lane.

Music samples provided courtesy of Masterworks Broadway and Strada Music Co.

Full Details

Interview with composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Lee Adams


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 (I’ll 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 town’s 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 Superman’s 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.


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

Such credits to the authors for all purposes shall be in type size equal to or greater than that of any other credits except for that of the star(s) above the title. In the programs, the credits shall appear on the title page thereof.

The title page of the program shall contain the following announcement in type size at least one-half the size of the authors’ credits:

is presented by arrangement with
560 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022


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

2 Trumpet I & II
1 Trumpet III
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
1 Bass Trombone III & Tuba
2 Percussion I & II:

Timpani(2 drums)
Snare Drum
Bass Drum
Tom Toms
Conga Drum
Bongo Drums
Temple Blocks
Cymbals (large & small suspended)
Wood Block
Hi-hat Cymbals
Finger Cymbals
Chinese Crash Cymbals
Hand Cymbals
Tam Tams (large & small)
Bell Tree
Elephant Bells

Organ-Celeste (Organ-conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material)
1 Bass

Optional, Additional Parts

Viola I & II

Rehearsal Materials

1       Piano Conductor’s Score
1       Prompt Book for Director
14     Prompt Books for Cast
30     Chorus-Vocal Parts

Cast List

Superman/Clark Kent – Kryptonian/Daily Planet Writer
Lois Lane – Daily Planet Reporter
Jim Morgan – Scientist
Dr. Abner Sedgwick – Physicist
Max Mencken – Daily Planet Columnist
Sydney – Daily Planet Secretary
Perry White – Daily Planet Editor
The Flying Lings (Father and 5 Sons) – Chinese Acrobats
Kenneth Banghart – Daily Planet Film Narrator

Citizens of Metropolis, M.I.T. Students, City Hall Guide, Policemen, Crooks, Suspects, Bank Guard, Tourists, Photographers and Planet Employees

The original Broadway production had a cast of 34, including chorus. Some doubling was employed in minor parts.

Brief History

“IT’S A BIRD… IT’S A PLANE… IT’S SUPERMAN®” played for 129 performances on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre starring Jack Cassidy, Patricia Marand, Linda Lavin, Michael O’Sullivan and Don Chastain.