2007 Merchandise & Miscellaneous News Archives

Bob Holiday, Patricia Marand and Rob Ventre

March 14, 2007: It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Patricia Marand and Bob Holiday Together Again!

By Brian McKernan

On March 12, almost 41 years to the day that It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman premiered on Broadway, the original Lois and Clark of the show The New York Times once called "The best musical of the season" reunited to attend a modest revival production by the Opening Doors Theatre Company (ODTC) at the Duplex Cabaret Theatre, in Greenwich Village. After being greeted by fans and well-wishers, Patricia Marand and Bob Holiday and the rest of the audience turned their attention to the stage as a dozen fresh young faces with the kind of singing and acting skills you'd expect to see on Broadway (just a quick uptown taxi-cab ride away) brought this tremendously fun-filled musical comedy to life under the direction of Casey Burden and choreographer Rick Delancy.

Performed in a space barely large enough to hold 100 people (actors included), what the production lacked in size was made up for by the talent and enthusiasm of its well-directed cast. This was, after all, Off-Off Broadway, where spartan production values are the norm. What mattered were energetic performances that provided just the right touch to this lighthearted musical comedy. Superman (played by the mesmerizingly confident Rob Ventre) didn't fly onstage. His costume was a Superman T-shirt and a pair of Clark Kent's dress slacks. Metropolis consisted of a small, black, canvas-backed stage. Musical accompaniment was a single piano adroitly played by Musical Director Steven Bednasz. But who misses elaborate sets and staging when you're having a rollicking, fast, funny, and totally engaging good time? The audience was too busy being entranced by the comic brilliance and singing voice of Sarah Lilley (Lois Lane), the lovably evil crooning of Andrew Cao (Daily Planet gossip columnist Max Mencken), the vampy delights of Suzanne Adams (Mencken's secretary Sydney), and the utterly hilarious Jason B. Schmidt (as the evil and hirsute villain Dr. Abner Sedgwick).

Click "Read More" below to read the complete report by Brian McKernan.

With songs by Broadway supermen Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (Bye Bye Birdie, Applause) and a book by the late David Newman and Robert Benton (Bonnie and Clyde), it's still hard to believe that the original 1966 It's a Bird... didn't have as long a run onstage as Strouse's other comic-strip-inspired musical, Annie (with lyrics by Martin Charnin). Having been a 12-year-old TV addict when It's a Bird... premiered 41 years ago I can attest to what Newman (screenwriter on three of the four Christopher Reeve Superman movies) once said about this musical lasting only 129 performances: "It was a victim of 'cape lash.' " Batman had premiered on ABC in January, and the nation was bat-crazy. People had their fill of caped crusaders on TV two nights a week, and Broadway audiences assumed It's a Bird... was more of the same, which it wasn't.

I digress. It's too bad this ODTC's revival was only three nights long. They should move the show to a larger venue and run it for at least a week. It's solid fun, through and through. It's a Bird... was one of the ODTC's "Closing Notice" concerts, which the program booklet describes as "Loving tributes to 'flop' shows or musicals that had criminally short runs yet fun scores of merit." It's a Bird... is often revived by local theater companies (most recently by the Musical Theater Guild at the Alex Theater, in Glendale CA). If such a revival comes to your town, by all means see it. Let's hope it's as good a production as the ODTC's was.

Holiday and Marand On a personal note, this reporter was honored to sit at Patricia Marand and Bob Holiday's table during the performance and enjoy their company and that of Mr. Holiday's lovely daughter Kelly and Ms. Marand's gracious husband Irv Salem. It was a great feeling to occasionally steal sidelong glances at Ms. Marand and Mr. Holiday during the show and see the smiles that this performance of It's a Bird... brought to their faces. Their presence at the revival was a delight to the actors and the audience alike. At one point during the show Bob leaned over to me and whispered "You should have seen it on Broadway," and I realized what an incredible show it must have been on a full-size stage with million-dollar production values. I regret not asking my parents to take me, especially since we lived in the Bronx, just a 45-minute subway ride away from the Alvin (now the Neil Simon) Theatre.

The original production of It's a Bird... garnered multiple Tony nominations and rave reviews for the tremendous talents involved. You can find out more about the show in Bob Holiday's book Superman on Broadway and the DVD documentary Holiday in Metropolis, detailing his 2003 appearance at the annual Superman Celebration.

Patricia Marand and Bob Holiday made Superman history in 1966 with their acclaimed performances in It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman, and they made a lasting impression on an audience yet again on March 12, 2007 with their visit to the show's revival. They continue to embody the beauty and gallantry, respectively, that the world has long associated with Lois and Clark/Superman. Thanks to them, the world renown of these great characters continues to inspire and provide a lasting sense of wonder.

Brian McKernan

2007 Merchandise & Miscellaneous News

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