June 23, 2010: Early Report from Dallas Theater's Superman Musical
By Steven W Eden
On Sunday, June 20, my wife, two friends and I found ourselves the guests of the Dallas Theater Center (DTC) for the final preview showing of "It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman!"
How did we score comp tickets? Interesting story, glad you asked. As it was, I first heard that this revival was on tap for the final production of the DTC's season right here - on the Superman Homepage (Thank you, Steve Younis). My only exposure to this opus was a DVD of the awful ABC-TV special production of the Superman musical. Still, I was interested from the get-go, and mentioned to my wife how great the experience might be. She loves the theater, yet we hadn't found the time to make it out to see live acting (not counting my grandchildren at bedtime) in a quite a while. Even after I showed her the previously mentioned DVD, she still gave her blessing. Despite the horror of having to leave the benign slower pace of Fort Worth to brave the Dallas Motor Speedway that is the streets of Big D, we decided to go.
Cut to months later...
The play was in rehearsal, the PR releases were coming out fast and furious and it was time to see about ticket prices.
No problem if it weren't for some life changes since the first, "Yes, Dear, we can go." I was laid off from my TV job two years ago (thank you, CBS), but the La-la-la-lovely Linda was still making good money in her job as a physician assistant. Just prior to this month, however, things occurred that necessitated her leaving this job and seeking new employment elsewhere, putting a strain on our financial well-being. $40 to $80 tickets were out of the question and I gave her the bad news.
I put the thought out of my mind, but she did not. Unknown to me, there was a Fathers' Day contest being conducted by the DTC to find "SuperDad." Her essay, which made me sound so much better than real life, won us four tickets to the Fathers' Day performance. This news didn't get to us until the 18th, not much time to find two theater loving friends to fill the extra seats. Perseverance, however, won out and we were set to go.
The drive to Dallas was a relatively easy one - not the norm for Big Town, but it was Sunday evening. Linda picked up the tickets at will call and we lingered in the lobby until the curtain time. While we waited, Linda met a nice young lady by the name of K.C. who had come to Dallas for a friend's wedding, but was a fan girl and just had to see the play. She mentioned that she was going to blog about it for a website. Since I had learned the Superman Homepage had a critique covered, I asked her for which site she was writing. "FantasticFangirls.org," she answered. I mentioned I was sending something to SupermanHomepage.com that may or may not get published and we compared notes. By the way, K.C. is a daily visitor to the Superman Homepage (Hi, K.C.!). She was unfamiliar with the '66 incarnation of the play, and I filled her in on the history behind it.
The new play began with a brief origin of our hero and a brief look at life in 1930s Smallville. Here we find Pa Kent giving the exact same speech that Glen Ford gave Chris Reeve in "Superman: The Movie." As the production continued, it was obvious that the original story for the play had been almost completely 86ed. Gone were the "mob guys" and that angle. Characters Max Menken and Professor Sedgewick were changed to represent Lex Luthor and Professor Hamilton. Other characters were added to represent Jimmy Olsen, Toyman, and the Newsboy Legion. Numerous references to things not included in the original play were introduced such as Brainiac and the bottled city of Kandor. At intermission, I ran into K.C. again and she asked me why Lex, Jimmy, Cat Grant, et al had these different names. I explained that I had read DC/Warner Bros. did not want any other of their copyrighted characters attached to this play who weren't in the original version.
The story was similar to the original in that:Superman has become the most loved person in Metropolis.
Bad guy is jealous of that.
Bad guy finds Superman's weakness.
Superman is out of action.
Crime in the city becomes rampant.
Superman returns to action.
Superman saves the day.
The biggest difference is that the original was set "in the present" (1966). This new story was set in 1939. In my opinion, this was the key to making the play more enjoyable. That and for the most part, it was played "straight." Many things from other Superman media efforts were used in homage. Lois refers to Clark as "Smallville," but, thankfully, was used only once. Lois wears a pillbox hat after intermission and Max calls our attention to it (a wink to The Adventures of Superman TV show). There was even a reference for the "Smallville" crowd about a "red and blue blur" in the sky.
The costume Superman wears is a copy of the Joe Shuster costume from Action Comics #1 (although here was missed a great chance to salute Lois & Clark when Sydney asks him where did he get that costume anyway? - on L&C, Superman answered "My mom made it." I thought it would've been great there, but Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who re-wrote the new story) must have decided enough was enough and had Superman just glare back at Sydney). Also during one scene in Clark's apartment, he carries a costume and hangs it in an armoire, but it is a modern day costume instead of the 1939 vintage. In fact, I almost laughed out loud when I realized this and the other costumes in the closet were the same as the Halloween costume I had bought and used just a few years ago (still got it, too)!
As mentioned, the "mob" was no longer in the show. Instead, a rogues gallery of costumed villains joined Max/Lex in his plan to bring down Big Blue with synthetic K (nod to Superman III with Robert Vaughn and Richard Pryor).
I need to say little more about the plot as everyone KNOWS who prevails in the end.
But on to music! And the music was great! Some songs from the original play were used but some such as "Revenge!" (one of the few really good ones) were dropped simply because they just no longer "fit." Charles Strouse and Lee Adams were commissioned to write four new songs to make it all work. The music was re-arranged to a more big band 30's style (the dance number at the Metropolis Man of the Year scene was the cat's meow!). Of the actors that sung, Jennifer Powers stood out the most. Her character (Sydney) sang the best song of the '66 effort and again in this one. I think this is still the best song of the show, but thanks to the re-tooling of the music and the story, the songs all seem to work much better.
Matt Cavanaugh handles the title roll well. Not too "aw, shucks" and not too full of himself, he finds just the right "in between" to make the audience love the Amazing Alien. His voice is a pretty steady tenor that is more than capable of pulling off the singing duties.
Lois Lane was played by Zakia Young, who had the pipes to deliver her melodies quite nicely. Her Lois was a driven, tenacious, ready-to-go-to-any-length-to-get-the-story reporter. In other words, her performance reflected nicely with the Lois Lane we've come to expect. Ms. Young is African-American, and I mention this only because some time ago an African-American actress (nice alliteration) was once discussed as a possible Lois in the last Superman movie before Bryan Singer became involved, and I remember it was a bit controversial on the web forums. Ms. Young proved Lois Lane is Lois Lane no matter the color of her skin.
Patrick Cassidy is the son of Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones. Quite a lineage to live up to in the musical theater, and while Patrick has yet to hit the heights that his mom and dad have, he showed that he too can deliver the goods musically. Jack played Max in the original theater show and Patrick does the same in this one. I've seen Jack Cassidy on TV while growing up and he was always one of my favorite actors. A couple of times, Patrick would stand and give that same famous Cassidy grin and you'd swear he was channeling his dad. It was Fathers' Day, after all. Of course, as discussed earlier, these are two different Maxs (though both are jealous of their respective Supermen). Cassidy sang well, but on one song, "You're For Me," I thought he sounded a little hollow on the high notes until I realized it was for effect.
The wire work was top notch as were the other special effects (we see what Clark sees with his x-ray vision through his apartment door). After the show, the effects crew chief stayed and answered questions about the above and more - a nice extra. But there was one glitch when Clark started to leave the Daily Planet office and the stage door would not open. Matt Cavanaugh, undaunted, simply exited stage right.
The music, the voices, the acting, the effects, the new story, the new setting, and the new attitude all contributed to a fantastic, wonderful time well spent whether you are into comics or not. This revision may not travel any further than its run in Dallas, but it would be a shame if it does not. It certainly deserves the chance to be seen by audiences around the country and, yes, the Great White way, if only to prove that "It's A Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman!" is more than just an old musical from 1966 but an entirely new and viable entertainment vehicle in 2010.
The musical comedy, directed by Kevin Moriarty, opens June 25 and runs through July 25, with performances on most days except Mondays. Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St. Friday's show is pay-what-you-can; tickets go on sale that morning at 10 a.m. and can be purchased in person at the Wyly. All other performances $15 to $86. 214-880-0202. dallastheatercenter.org.
2010 Merchandise & Miscellaneous News
Listed below are all the Merchandise & Miscellaneous News items archived for 2010.
- January 5, 2010: Twitter Bans Superman Password
- January 8, 2010: Superman Truck at Monster Jam
- January 10, 2010: Superman EDF Energy Ad Campaign Promo
- January 11, 2010: Bizarro Roller Coaster Ranked #1 in World
- January 14, 2010: PBS Ready To Learn with Super Grover
- January 14, 2010: Zod Weapon in World of Warcraft
- January 16, 2010: Superman Homepage Wins Best Fansite in Project Fanboy Awards
- January 19, 2010: Mystery Superman Saves Mother in England
- January 20, 2010: Footage of Real Fortress of Solitude Cave Crystals
- January 21, 2010: O'Brien/Hulk vs. Leno/Superman
- January 22, 2010: Hope For Haiti - What Would Superman Do?
- January 22, 2010: Waiting for Superman Documentary
- January 24, 2010: DC Universe Online Inside The Studio Episode 1
- January 25, 2010: Steve Younis' Superman Collection on Shelf Porn
- January 28, 2010: Amazon Launches DC Comics Collection
- February 3, 2010: Last Son Documentary Screening in San Francisco
- February 5, 2010: Super Man Saves Girl
- February 10, 2010: Dwight Howard is Clark Kent for SportsCenter Commercial
- February 11, 2010: DC Universe vs Masters of the Universe Action Figures
- February 11, 2010: Tickets Available for The History of Invulnerability
- February 14, 2010: Fortress of Solitude at 2010 Winter Olympics
- February 15, 2010: New Superman Toys and Action Figures Coming Soon
- February 15, 2010: The History of Invulnerability - An Interview with David Bar Katz
- February 16, 2010: Superman Returns to the Musical Stage
- February 16, 2010: Batman Beating Superman Comic Book Record
- February 24, 2010: Footage From Cancelled PS3 Superman Game?
- February 24, 2010: Bringing Comics into the Classroom
- February 26, 2010: Mattel's Retro-Action DC Super Heroes Action Figures
- February 28, 2010: DC Fires Lawyers in Superman Legal Battle
- March 5, 2010: Warren Ellis Challenge - Design Superman #1 Cover
- March 9, 2010: Rare Supermen of America Member Ring on Auction
- March 13, 2010: Brick Order Deadline for Noel Neill Statue
- March 14, 2010: The Essential Superman Encyclopedia
- March 17, 2010: Smallville Actors to Appear at 2010 Superman Celebration
- March 17, 2010: Final Report From MegaCon 2010 - Orlando, Florida
- March 19, 2010: Project Fanboy Awards Video
- March 19, 2010: From Behind the Shadow of Superman
- March 22, 2010: Superman at Sydney Royal Easter Show
- March 23, 2010: Warner Bros. Announces Supergirl Fashion by Nastia
- March 23, 2010: Warner Bros. Opening Montreal Video Game Studio
- March 23, 2010: Superman Lawsuit in Top Ten 2009 Litigation Wins
- March 26, 2010: Ralph Cosentino's Story of the Man of Steel
- March 26, 2010: Noel Neill Statue Clay Model Complete
- March 26, 2010: Nominate Joe Shuster for Canada's Walk of Fame
- March 27, 2010: Alex Ross Rough Justice Signing
- March 31, 2010: DC Universe Online - Little Bohemia, Metropolis
- April 1, 2010: Superman Homepage April Fool's Day Pranks
- April 6, 2010: WonderCon 2010 Report
- April 8, 2010: DC Superheroes at Taco Bell
- April 8, 2010: An Interview with Sculptor Gary Ernest Smith
- April 12, 2010: The History of Invulnerability - A Review
- April 14, 2010: Superhero Foundation to Help Prevent Child Abuse
- April 15, 2010: Superman Celebrities at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo
- April 16, 2010: Superman Toon Tumbler from PopFun at C2E2
- April 17, 2010: Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo - Day 1 Report
- April 18, 2010: Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo - Day 2 Report
- April 19, 2010: The Case of the Missing Superman Painting
- April 19, 2010: Polly Pocket - Dressed for Justice
- April 20, 2010: Siegel & Shuster Society Name Shaq Real Superman
- April 21, 2010: More DC Comics 2011 Calendars
- April 22, 2010: Stroy Master Soundproof Windows Superman Ad
- April 23, 2010: Super Museum in Top 10 Illinois Attractions
- April 24, 2010: Carmine Infantino Headed to Metropolis, Illinois
- April 24, 2010: Superman On Earth: Reflections of a Fan
- April 25, 2010: Jim Carrey is Superman
- April 27, 2010: Superman Golf Head Cover
- April 29, 2010: DC Universe Online - Inside the Studio #4
- April 29, 2010: SupermanBobHoliday.com Updated With Exclusive New Content
- May 3, 2010: Man in Superman Cape Steals Truck
- May 4, 2010: Superman Homepage in Issue 40 of SciFiNow Magazine
- May 4, 2010: Illinois Policy Institute Against Lois Lane Statue
- May 5, 2010: Berlin Looks at Superheroes' Jewish Roots
- May 6, 2010: BBC Audio Drama Superman on Trial Available on CD
- May 9, 2010: Iron Man, Superman, and Batman Hang Out
- May 10, 2010: Dean Cain and Brandon Routh - Basketball Supermen
- May 11, 2010: Iron Man vs the Man of Steel?
- May 13, 2010: Bon Jovi's Superman Tonight on American Idol
- May 13, 2010: Atlanta Hawks - Destroy Superman
- May 14, 2010: DC Comics Files Lawsuit Over Superman Rights
- May 16, 2010: Marc Toberoff Responds to WB Lawsuit
- May 17, 2010: George Sohn Talks Chris Reeve Cinemaquette
- May 19, 2010: Tickets on Sale for Superman Musical Revival
- May 21, 2010: Alternate Earth DC Comics Books on Fringe
- May 27, 2010: WB Consumer Products Partners with Zazzle
- May 27, 2010: Melbourne to Attempt Super Hero World Record
- May 28, 2010: Noel Neill Statue Unveiling Scheduled
- May 29, 2010: Melbourne Smashes Super Hero World Record
- May 29, 2010: DC Universe Online Inside the Studio - Episode 5
- May 29, 2010: The Changing Fashions of Krypton
- June 1, 2010: DC Universe Online Set for November Release
- June 2, 2010: Mezco Toyz Team Up With DC Comics
- June 2, 2010: Characters Banned from Hollywood Blvd
- June 2, 2010: 50s Dance at Superman Celebration
- June 3, 2010: DC Universe Online Controls and Features Interview
- June 3, 2010: Superman Homepage Meet & Greet at Superman Celebration
- June 4, 2010: Become an Honorary Citizen of Metropolis
- June 8, 2010: Dwight Howard Superman-Inspired Adidas Apparel
- June 10, 2010: DC Universe Online - Tour Through Suicide Slums
- June 10, 2010: Superman Photo in South African Art Exhibition
- June 11, 2010: Superman Celebration - Day 2 Early Report
- June 11, 2010: Superman Celebration - Day 1 Report
- June 11, 2010: In Metropolis, Illinois for the 2010 Superman Celebration
- June 11, 2010: Superman Musical Almost Ready to Fly at Dallas Theater Center
- June 11, 2010: Cosplayer Couple of Steel - Danny and Heather Kelley
- June 12, 2010: Superman Celebration - Day 2 Photos
- June 12, 2010: Noel Neill Lois Lane Statue Unveiled
- June 12, 2010: DC Universe Online - E3 2010 Sizzle Trailer
- June 13, 2010: Superman Celebration - Day 3 Photos
- June 14, 2010: DC Universe Online - E3 2010 Full Trailer
- June 15, 2010: Mr. Freiman Goes to Metropolis
- June 16, 2010: Matt Cavenaugh Talks Superman Musical in Dallas
- June 16, 2010: Supanova Comic Expo in Sydney, Australia
- June 16, 2010: Photo Memories from 2010 Superman Celebration
- June 17, 2010: Superman Celebration Smallville Q&A Panel
- June 17, 2010: Villain's Day Off 2 Wins Superman Celebration Fan Film Contest
- June 18, 2010: Superman Celebration - WGBS News Report from June 9
- June 18, 2010: Pre-Order DC Universe Online MMO Video Game
- June 20, 2010: Superman Celebration - WGBS News Report from June 10
- June 21, 2010: Exclusive Interview with Dallas Theater's Kevin Moriarty
- June 21, 2010: New & Improved Superman Superstore
- June 21, 2010: Book Review - Our Hero: Superman on Earth
- June 22, 2010: Superman Celebration - WGBS News Report from June 11
- June 23, 2010: Early Report from Dallas Theater's Superman Musical
- June 23, 2010: Warner Bros. Movie World Celebrates DC Comics 75th Anniversary
- June 23, 2010: So I Like Superman: A One-Nerd Show
- June 25, 2010: Exclusive Interview with Superman Matt Cavenaugh
- June 28, 2010: Hallmark DC Ornament at SDCC 2010
- June 28, 2010: 4th Annual Supergirl Jam
- July 4, 2010: Truth, Justice and the American Way Musical Number
- July 6, 2010: DC and Capstone Collaborate on New Super Pets Books
- July 9, 2010: Siegel and Shuster Panel at SDCC
- July 9, 2010: DC Super-Pets Book Covers
- July 9, 2010: Greg Cox Discusses Final Crisis Novelization
- July 12, 2010: Review of Dallas Theater's Superman Musical
- July 13, 2010: Superman Christopher Dennis Arrested
- July 15, 2010: Starro Spores Exclusive to SDCC
- July 16, 2010: Warner Bros. Limited Edition SDCC Key Cards
- July 17, 2010: Behind The Scenes Video Blog from Superman Musical
- July 17, 2010: SupermanBobHoliday.com Visits Dallas Superman Revisal
- July 20, 2010: DC Super Heroes - The Ultimate Pop-Up Book
- July 20, 2010: DC Universe Online Beta Registration Begins
- July 21, 2010: Details on DC Universe Online Pre-Order and Beta
- July 22, 2010: DCUO - The Voices of the Game
- July 22, 2010: Superman: The Escape at Magic Mountain, Valencia Closed Down
- July 23, 2010: Heroic Ambition Documentary Released
- July 24, 2010: DC Universe Online Five Minute Trailer
- July 24, 2010: Dallas Superman Musical Looking to Tour
- July 25, 2010: SDCC - Mattel DC Action Figure Panel
- July 25, 2010: Action Comics #1 Saves Family's Home
- July 26, 2010: GamingAhead DC Online Interview
- July 27, 2010: JC Penny and Warner Bros. Team Up for Supergirl Clothing Line
- August 2, 2010: DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe Figures Panel
- August 9, 2010: Real World Metropolis Threatened by Their Own Kryptonite
- August 12, 2010: Late Superman Fan Honored in Metropolis
- August 12, 2010: One-Man Show on Superman's Impact Opens Tomorrow in NYC
- August 13, 2030: Superman Exhibit Leaves Port Townsend in Washington State
- August 14, 2010: New ToyFare Issue Spotlights Superboy & Legion 12-Pack
- August 16, 2010: Lawyer Behind Siegel/Shuster Lawsuit Sued
- August 16, 2010: Fan-Made Superman Prototype Suit
- August 16, 2010: Superheroes as Bad Role Models?
- August 19, 2010: WGTD 91.1 Players Adapt Superman and Batman
- August 20, 2010: Talia Thelen Talks Superman: The Unofficial Web Series
- August 23, 2010: Another DCU Online Preview
- August 24, 2010: Starro Spore Giveaway
- August 27, 2010: Christopher Reeve Superman Action Figure Incoming
- August 31, 2010: The Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Collection
- August 31, 2010: Fredric Wertham's Papers Now Available to Public
- August 31, 2010: Costumed Characters Strike Out at LAPD
- September 1, 2010: Heroic Ambition DVD Review
- September 2, 2010: Pendant Productions Does Superman vs. The Atom Man
- September 7, 2010: New Superman World Record Set in UK
- September 7, 2010: New DC Universe Online Fan Podcast
- September 9, 2010: DC Universe Online Video Interviews
- September 11, 2010: Uranium Plant Incident in Metropolis, Illinois
- September 12, 2010: Live Radio Interview with Steve Younis on PSN-Radio.com
- September 13, 2010: More Bricks Available Around Noel Neill Statue
- September 14, 2010: Photos from Dragon Con 2010
- September 15, 2010: Live Radio Interview with Steve Younis on PSN-Radio.com
- September 15, 2010: Justice League Halloween Contest from Hostess Cakes
- September 15, 2010: Superheroes in Court at Yale Show
- September 18, 2010: Comic Book Legends Revealed Looks at the Daily Planet Building's Roots
- September 18, 2010: Will Ferrell to Attempt Costumed Heroes World Record in Los Angeles
- September 23, 2010: Jim Lee Examines DC Universe Online Trailer
- September 27, 2010: Lois Lane Statue Boosting Metropolis Tourism
- September 27, 2010: Animaserra - Brazilian Comic Festival
- September 28, 2010: Update on the Superman Copyright Legal Battle
- September 30, 2010: DC Universe Online Lex Luthor and NYCC Panel
- September 30, 2010: Nominate Siegel and Shuster for Great Ohioan Award
- October 2, 2010: DC Universe Online Metropolis Fly-Through
- October 4, 2010: DC Universe Online Delayed Until 2011
- October 5, 2010: DC Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book
- October 8, 2010: NYCC Trailer for DC Universe Online
- October 8, 2010: Book Review - DC Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book
- October 8, 2010: Book Review - Superman On Earth: Reflections of a Fan
- October 10, 2010: A Collection of Reports from New York Comicon
- October 10, 2010: DC Universe Online Videos from NYCC
- October 11, 2010: Win a Framed Comic Cover with Hallmark Cards
- October 12, 2010: Character Create Trailer for DC Universe Online
- October 13, 2010: Superman Comic Thief Captured
- October 13, 2010: Breaking the Superhero World Record with Megamind
- October 14, 2010: DC Universe Online - Inside the Studio Ep. 8
- October 19, 2010: DC Universe Online - Metropolis Chinatown Fly-Through
- October 19, 2010: Superman Lawsuit Delayed by Appeal
- October 21, 2010: DC Universe Online - James Marsters is Lex Luthor
- October 24, 2010: InvestComics Interview with Steve Younis
- October 26, 2010: DC Universe Online Metropolis Police HQ
- November 1, 2010: See The Superman CANstruction in Long Island
- November 2, 2010: Be Super Safe at the Office
- November 3, 2010: DC Universe Online Inside The Studio - Episode 9
- November 4, 2010: DC Universe Online Travelogue - Tomorrow District
- November 4, 2010: Superman Picasso Style
- November 9, 2010: Original Superman #14 Artwork Up For Auction
- November 12, 2010: Acrobatic Movement in DC Universe Online
- November 12, 2010: Superman Logo Drug Dealer Jailed
- November 18, 2010: Superman Lawsuit Moves Forward
- November 18, 2010: Superheroes Return to Hollywood Blvd
- November 19, 2010: Superman Decorates Tree in Cleveland Airport
- November 21, 2010: Christopher Reeve 12 inch Superman Action Figure
- November 23, 2010: Forbes Visits Home of Superman, Metropolis, Illinois
- November 23, 2010: Cadmium, Lead Found in Superhero Glasses
- November 29, 2010: Making Caramelized Apple Superman Pie
- November 30, 2010: Cleveland Maps Superman's Origins
- December 7, 2010: DC Universe Online - Physics Combat
- December 7, 2010: Super Humor - Realistic Superhero Funeral
- December 8, 2010: Japan Celebrates 75 Years of DC Comics
- December 9, 2010: Sony Announces PS3 Beta for DCU Online
- December 10, 2010: Toy News International Previews Christopher Reeve Superman Figure
- December 10, 2010: Super Friends Animated Feature from Fisher-Price
- December 13, 2010: DC Universe Online Inside the Studio Ep. 10
- December 16, 2010: DC Universe Online - Meta Mentors
- December 18, 2010: Inside The SuperMuseum in Metropolis, Illinois
- December 19, 2010: Superman Christmas Tree in Cleveland Airport
- December 21, 2010: DC Universe Online Released January 11, 2011
- December 22, 2010: DC Universe Online Group Combat Alerts: Area 51
- December 22, 2010: Superheroes, Supervillains and The Law
- December 24, 2010: DC Universe Online - Gorilla Island Alert
- December 25, 2010: Warhol's Superman Stolen
- December 28, 2010: Javier Bardem as Superman
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