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

Print

“IT’S A BIRD … IT’S A PLANE … IT’S SUPERMAN®” is the tale of Superman’s efforts to defeat a vengeful scientist 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.

Interview with composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Lee Adams

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Rehearsal Materials
  • Brief History
  • Upcoming
  • 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

  • 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-conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material)
    1 Bass

    Optional, Additional Parts

    Viola I & II
    Cello
    Guitar

  • Piano Conductor’s Score
    1       Prompt Book
    14     Dialogue Parts
    32     Chorus-Vocal Parts

  • “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.

  • Find upcoming performances near you.

    Search for performances near you
    Organization City, State First Performance Last Performance
    Summerville High School SUMMERVILLE, SC 12/04/2014 12/06/2014
    All Star Productions LONDON 02/09/2015 02/21/2015
    Christian Youth Theatre TUCSON, AZ 03/27/2015 03/29/2015
    Old Library Theatre FAIR LAWN, NJ 04/16/2015 04/18/2015
    San Diego Junior Theatre SAN DIEGO, CA 04/24/2015 05/10/2015
    Cathedral High School ST. CLOUD, MN 04/30/2015 05/02/2015
    Community Theatre of Howell HOWELL, MI 05/08/2015 05/17/2015
    Family Community Theatre HUTCHINSON, KS 06/18/2015 06/21/2015