Yup. Superman The Musical. Otherwise known as “Superman: Turn On the Clark”
We’ve gushed before about NYCC’s Encores! program. Last month’s Fiorello! was fan-frakkin-tastic. I’ll eat up anything Encores! puts in front of me. So when we heard that the next musical in the lineup would be a 1960’s flop about Superman, we made sure to book us a trip to Metropolitan bliss.
And Encores! succeeded once again with a witty, fun, incredibly self-aware production that takes pride in its ridiculousness with creative, playful energy.
Critickate made a smart critic-y observation during le intermission about the timing of this show. It’s like a superhero-punch into Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark‘s gut. If you were expecting this Superman to fly around the theater à la Julie Taymor, well, you almost get it. Except instead of risking the life of our titular actor, as played by Edward Watts, we get a cardboard cutout substitute. Did you want giant sets that look like a comic book New York City? Well, settle for two-dimensional buildings at about two feet tall. Want power ballads written by Bono? Um, well. This music is definitely not written by Bono. Or anyone half as poetic.
But it works! Superman‘s refusal to take itself seriously makes for some amazing gags, clever self-referential jokes, and an opportunity for its stars to shine! I mean, if an actor can actually make these AWFUL lyrics, by Lee Adams, sound fun and plausible, it’s a HUGE credit to them. Probably bigger than your old Sondheim go-to.
Case in Point: I am converted to Will Swenson fandom. And I have an old-man crush on David Pittu, who starred as an amazing Feste in Shakespeare in the Park’s last Twelfth Night.
Encores! next piece is On Your Toes. I’d get some tickets if I were you.