Theater News

REVIEW ROUNDUP: Patrick Cassidy, Matt Cavenaugh, Jenny Powers, et al. Open in Revised Superman Musical

Zakiya Young and Matt Cavenaugh
in It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman
(© Brandon Thibodeaux)
Zakiya Young and Matt Cavenaugh
in It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman
(© Brandon Thibodeaux)

Patrick Cassidy, Matt Cavenaugh, Jenny Powers, and Zakiya Young have opened in the Dallas Theater Center’s revival of the musical It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman. Directed by Kevin Moriarty and featuring choreography by Joel Ferrell, the production will run through July 25, at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

The show features music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams and a revised book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, working from the original by David Newman and Robert Benton. Cavenaugh plays Superman/Clark Kent and Young plays Lois Lane, while Cassidy plays the musical’s villain, Max Mencken, and Powers portrays Sydney Sharp.

The cast also features Andrew Keenan-Bolger as Torchy, Bob Hess as the Court Jester, Julie Johnson as Scarlet Widow, Matthew Kilgore as Kazam, Cara Serber as Marilyn Nessbit, Paul Taylor as Jack-in-the-Box, Kate Wetherhead as Blackbird, Kent Zimmerman as Jupiter James, Hassan El-Amin as Perry White, Sean Hennigan as Mayor Siegel, Cedric Neal as Cadabra, along with Chris Klink, Addie McDaniel, McKenzie Warren, and Steven Wenslawski. Child actors Derek Barnes, Dawson Holder, Raleigh “Tre” Jones, Ashton Miramontes, and Jacob Redmon round out the ensemble.

The production features set design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Jennifer Caprio, sound design by Rob Kaplowitz, lighting design by Jeff Croiter, with musical direction by Kimberly Grigsby and additional orchestrations and arrangements by Eugene Gwozdz.

The initial reviews for the show diverge on whether or not the revisions to the show have improved it, but Cavenaugh’s portrayal of the iconic hero is being universally praised.

Among the reviews are:

It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman!
“So buoyantly lightweight that it practically floats up, up and away, Dallas Theater Center’s extensively and inventively revamped “revisal” of “It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman!” may be just what it takes to elevate the reputation of a semi-obscure Charles Strouse-Lee Adams musical heretofore best known as a cult-fave Broadway flop.”


“The DTC production features a pleasingly eclectic mix of songs from the original Broadway production — many of them rearranged and re-orchestrated by Eugene Gwozdz — along with a few tunes that were deleted during the pre-Broadway tour, and brand-new numbers by Adams and Strouse. Just as important, the DTC production also benefits from the contribution of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, …who did a near-total rewrite of the Newman-Benton book, and reassigned some of the original songs to different characters.”


“As Superman/Clark Kent, Cavenaugh acts and sings with appropriate sincerity and engaging charisma, while Young is impressively appealing — and, at times, highly reminiscent of Rosalind Russell in “His Girl Friday” — as the career-driven but lovelorn Lois.”


“A second-chance staging on the Great White Way may be problematical — DC Comics reportedly maintains a tight grip on its rights to the Superman mythos — but this new and improved iteration of the show conceivably could become a regional theater staple.”

Dallas Morning News

Theater review: Dallas Theater Center’s reshaped Superman is almost super
“The new librettist, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and director Kevin Moriarty were convinced that one reason the show didn’t run longer in the first place was that the original book by David Newman and Robert Benton didn’t take the superhero myth seriously enough. That’s one mistake the new team hasn’t repeated. Their Clark Kent/Superman is as strong morally as he is physically, and this time around his complex relationship with Lois is the heart of the show.”


“Not everything works yet. … The first act goes on too long, while the disjunctive second lacks a musical focus.”


“Matt Cavenaugh has more of a soccer player’s than a lineman’s physique, but every inch of him fits the heroic mold. He can lead a crowd of orphans in something resembling the Boy Scout pledge without cracking you up – and he sings with sensitivity as well as strength.”


“Casting Patrick Cassidy as villain Max Menken (the role his father, Jack Cassidy, originated in 1966) was a grand gesture. This Cassidy is wonderfully oily as this darker version of the character. It’s a pity he goes flat every time a musical phrase rises to a climax.”


“If the Dallas engagement serves as the out-of-town tryout for a further life, it doesn’t take X-ray vision to see a big hit hidden inside the current clutter.”

Gary Cogill reviews It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s… Superman at the Wyly
“Superman, who flies around with charm and innocence, is well-played by Matt Cavenaugh, but his pairing with Lois Lane, played by Broadway veteran, Zakiya Young, seems miscast. Her lines are delivered flat and uninvolved. Musically, the best moments happen when everyone is on stage.”


“Artistic director, Kevin Moriarty, has a mountain to climb with the two-and-a-half hour “Superman” because it’s musically challenged.

“The songs are not terribly engaging and the story is slightly schizophrenic – intentionally campy one minute, filled with male-female-angst the next.”

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