To quote a character in It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman, lead actor Matt Cavenaugh is tall, dark and has bulges in all the right places. We think it was a reference to his muscles, but we’re OK filling in our own meaning.
The most recent revival of the 1960s musical, which lasted less than four months on Broadway in its original run, has been tweaked to play better in 2010. It’s set in 1939 so not sure exactly what needed to be updated, but we’ll trust that they made improvements.
Whatever they cut, they must’ve added in ten times more because it’s still way too long at nearly two-and-a-half hours, especially with the annoyingly uncomfortable seats at the Wyly Theatre. (We just got the feeling back in our legs.) Fortunately, there’s enough eye candy in Cavenaugh and several of his male cast mates to keep us awake.
And the high camp level definitely kept us entertained, well, at least 75% of the time. A menagerie of cheesy villains populates this incarnation of Metropolis, and most of them seem more gay than evil, from the fey Jack-in-the-Box (Paul Taylor) and light-in-the-slippers Court Jester (Bob Hess) to the man-hating/woman-loving Scarlet Widow (Julie Johnson). Hell, we’d become super-villains too if it meant getting close to Superman, so who can blame them for their acts of mild-by-today’s-standards treachery.
The production is every bit as over-the-top campy as the original 1960s Batman TV series, but with all the “serious” takes on superheroes in the movies these days, the cornball, aw-shucks delivery is a welcome trip back to simpler times when a civilized bank heist was as fiendish as crime got.
The women really own the show, especially Jenny Powers as the sexed-up gossip girl at The Daily Planet, who’s the only one smart enough to figure out that Clark Kent and Superman have a lot of similarities. She really shines in every scene and is the only person who comes close to getting super-hot Cavenaugh out of his shirt, so we love her for trying. It never happens, but he looks great in a pair of tights, has a ton of charm, and a really great singing voice (something we can’t say about Patrick Cassidy as arch-villain Max Menken, who could never seem to hit all the right notes).
But his mom, Mrs. Patridge herself,was in the audience so that was fun for fans of her work in Oklahoma! and The Patridge Family.
Superman isn’t the greatest musical we’ve ever seen, but we had a great deal of fun. And we weren’t even drinking.
Runs through July 25, 2010
Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre
2400 Flora Street, Dallas
Gay List Daily Giveaway
Win a pair of tickets to “It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman” courtesy of Dallas Theater Center. Fill out our contact form with your name, phone number and valid e-mail address so we can easily contact the winner. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, June 29, 2010 to be valid.