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Theater Review: 'It's a Bird ... It's a Plane ... It's Superman' -- 3.5 stars

"It's A Bird ... It's A Plane ... It's Superman" Credit: "It's A Bird ... It's A Plane ... It's Superman"

It's a Bird ... It's a Plane ... It's Superman
3.5 stars

Nearly 50 years before Julie Taymor and Bono made mincemeat of Spider-Man in a scandalous spectacle that is inexplicably still running, Hal Prince (then at the start of his directing career) and composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Lee Adams (of "Bye Bye Birdie" fame) brought the Man of Steel to Broadway.

Though the comic book-themed musical, entitled "It's a Bird ... It's a Plane ... It's Superman," failed to catch on and flopped, it has since become a cult favorite thanks to its quirky sensibility and very catchy score.

Although "Superman" does not really need a full-fledged Broadway revival, it is perfectly at home at City Center Encores!, where it is receiving a thoroughly enjoyable, swinging concert staging that unapologetically embraces the show's 1960s campiness and pop art roots without going overboard or losing its charm.

It's rather like watching a musical of "Austin Powers" or the "Batman" television series with Adam West.

In terms of flying, a two-dimensional cutout of Superman is lifted around. Thus, no one gets hurt in botched stunts.

Framed rather like a single comic book, the musical explores his bouts with a villainous scientist (the gleefully over-the-top David Pittu) and a conceited newspaper columnist (a suave Will Swenson).

Edward Watts makes for a properly dashing, clean-cut and buff Superman. Jenny Powers is fine in the role of Lois Lane, while Allie Mauzey, as a co-worker at the Daily Planet, stands out with "You've Got Possibilities," a fantastic song that was first performed by Linda Lavin and helped launch her career.


If you go: "It's a Bird ... It's a Plane ... It's Superman" plays at City Center through Sunday. 130 W. 55th St., 212-581-1212, nycitycenter.org

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