Spiderman was not the first comic book super-hero to appear on the Great White Way. In March through July of 1966 IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE, IT’S SUPERMAN ran for 19 previews and 129 performances at the Alvin Theatre. I was in the audience for one of these performances.
This musical had a more traditional Broadway pedigree than today’s Spiderman adaptation. Music and lyrics were by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (ANNIE, APPLAUSE, BYE BYE BIRDIE, etc), and it was produced and directed by Hal Prince.
While it had Lois Lane, there was no Lex Luthor. The villains of the piece were a mad scientist and the Daily Planet’s Winchell-esque gossip columnist Max Mencken, played by Broadway veteran Jack Cassidy (father of “Tiger Beat” favs David and Shaun and husband of Partridge Family mom Shirley Jones).
Also in the cast, as Cassidy’s assistant, was Linda Lavin, who would go on to fame on the small screen as Alice, a waitress at Mel’s Diner. Appropriately initialed for the “silver age” Superman, LL sang the show’s one contribution to the Great American Songbook – “You’ve Got Possibilities” – which was featured a few years back in a Pillsbury Doughboy commercial.
According to the Superman Supersite –
“The plot revolves around Superman's efforts to defeat Dr. Abner Sedgwick, a ten-time Nobel Prize-losing scientist who seeks to avenge the scientific world's dismissal of his brilliance by attempting to destroy the world's symbol of good. Additionally, Superman comes into romantic conflict with Max Mencken, a columnist for the Daily Planet newspaper, who resents Lois Lane's attraction to Superman.”
FYI, to find out everything you always wanted to know about Broadway go to www.ibdb.com. The Internet Broadway Database archive is the official database for Broadway theatre information. IBDB provides records of productions from the beginnings of New York theatre until today. Details include pertinent people involved as well as interesting facts and production statistics.
Get a list of every production of Hamlet on Broadway or a list of your favorite actor's credits. Find out what shows opened in a specific Broadway season. I use IBDB often to verify my memory and to fill in missing or forgotten information for my writings on Broadway.