Last night I decided to listen to the Original Cast album of the Broadway musical It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman, a score I haven’t heard in several years, and it immediately threw me into a quandary. I know that the Penn State Thespians put on the musical, as I have several vivid memories of seeing it and discussing it with Mike Carr afterwards, but I wasn’t sure in which year.
My first thought was the first year I was there, but it couldn’t have been because that would have meant that they did four musicals that year, an impossibility. So it must have been the second year.
The show was pretty much a flop on Broadway, which is a shame. It has a decent score by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (of Bye Bye Birdie fame) and a not bad book; I certainly enjoyed the production that the Thespians put on. But it would require a lot of tinkering to work today (some of the villains are of Chinese descent and Superman sings “So solly to disrupt your plan” as he dispatches them in the climactic number). Jack Cassidy, who had a decidedly secondary role as a villain, was given top billing in the Broadway production as he was the only star in the show, so his part was beefed up to let him ham his way through it.
Also, in the original production was a relative newcomer named Linda Lavin playing the part of Sydney, who got to sing the best song in the score, “You’ve Got Possibilities”. She sang this to Clark Kent, as she untied his tie and tried to unbutton his shirt in an attempt to seduce him, not realizing that there was a big red “S” underneath that shirt.