It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman®


It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman®

Full-Length Musical, Comedy  /  2w, 5m plus ensemble

Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Lee Adams
Book by David Newman and Robert Benton (Based Upon the Comic Strip “SUPERMAN”)

Broadway Production Produced by Harold Prince in association with Ruth Mitchell
Directed for the Broadway Stage by Harold Prince

Up, up and away! Superman and his comic book cohorts fly into action... from Metropolis to your theatre!

Image: 2013 New York City Center Production (Joan Marcus)

It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman®

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    2w, 5m plus ensemble
  • Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Adventure, Adaptations (Stage & Screen), Parody / Spoof
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Appropriate for all audiences, Children (Age 6 - 10)
  • Nominee: Three 1966 Tony Awards


Campy, dynamic, and larger than life, It’s A Bird... It’s A Plane... It’s Superman® captures the sights and sounds of 1960s New York City as Superman battles a vengeful scientist determined to destroy the world’s symbol of good. Meanwhile, Daily Planet writer Lois Lane struggles to make sense of her rocky romance with the superhero, and Lois’ ambitious coworker Max vows to make a name for himself by unveiling the Man of Steel’s secret identity.
It's A Bird... It's A Plane... It's Superman® opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on March 29, 1966, starring Jack Cassidy, Patricia Marand, Linda Lavin, Michael O’Sullivan and Don Chastain. In 2013, New York City Center's Encores! revived the show, starring Edward Watts, Jenny Powers, Will Swenson, David Pittu and Alli Mauzey.

It seems like a typical day in Metropolis: some bank robbers attempt to knock over the local vault, Superman flies out of the sky and captures them, and the citizens feel wonderfully safe. But there are darker plots brewing.

After Superman tells the audience about his credo (I’ll never stop doing good), he changes into his disguise, that of mild-mannered Shipping News reporter Clark Kent. At the Daily Planet, the newspaper where he works, Clark once again is rebuffed by the beautiful girl reporter Lois Lane who has eyes only for Superman. Unfortunately, Lois is the victim of unrequited love.

On this particular day, there arrives a visitor in great perturbation. He is Dr. Abner Sedgwick, renowned nuclear genius from M.I.T. and he tells Lois that he must get Superman immediately to halt an atomic reactor which has gone out of control.

Superman (who overheard the problem with his super-hearing) arrives at M.I.T. and enters the radioactive chamber and soon sets it aright. Sedgwick confesses to the audience that he is a miserable ten-time Nobel Prize loser and has attempted to destroy Superman as his revenge on the world. Back at the Daily Planet, gossip columnist Max Mencken has concocted a plan to reveal the identity of Superman to the world, thus making himself the town’s real hero. He has gathered together the six most likely Superman suspects and planted a ticking bomb in the office. Fortunately, Clark Kent wanders into the room and is able to stop the danger without revealing himself.

In the meantime, Sedgwick demolishes the City Hall, and the public, led by Max, turns against Superman. The Man of Steel is crushed by this fickle behavior, and all the more so when Lois stops by to give him a friendly brush-off. The only thing left for him is to try to enjoy being Clark Kent. Sedgwick constructs a mammoth computer called Braniac 7 to aid him in uncovering Superman’s secret identity, but the machine comes up with the wrong answer: Max Mencken. After Max and Sedgwick meet, the error is discovered, and the two decide to join up in villainy. Max tricks his secretary into inviting Clark to a party, having guessed that Clark is the real Superman, and when the party turns out to be a trap at an abandoned warehouse, all seems lost. Lois has been kidnapped and held hostage, so there is nothing Clark can do but admit everything and listen to Sedgwick. There follows the complete and total psychoanalysis of Superman, in which the evil doctor completely brainwashes our hero by questioning his values. Superman is crushed and beaten.

Finally Superman comes to his senses. He does so in a spectacular fight which ends in the death of Sedgwick (fried on a hot wire) and the final humiliation for Max. Max tries to tell people that Clark is Superman, but no one will believe a word of it. And for Lois comes, at last, a confession of a sort of super-love from the Man of Steel himself.


Superman/Clark Kent – Kryptonian/Daily Planet Writer
Lois Lane – Daily Planet Reporter
Jim Morgan – Scientist
Dr. Abner Sedgwick – Physicist
Max Mencken – Daily Planet Columnist
Sydney – Daily Planet Secretary
Perry White – Daily Planet Editor

The Flying Lings (Father and 5 Sons) – Chinese Acrobats
Kenneth Banghart – Daily Planet Film Narrator

Citizens of Metropolis, M.I.T. Students, City Hall Guide, Policemen, Crooks, Suspects, Bank Guard, Tourists, Photographers and Planet Employees

The original Broadway production had a cast of 34, including chorus. Some doubling was employed in minor parts.

  • Time Period 1950s
  • Setting In and around the city of Metropolis, USA. 1966.
  • Features Period Costumes
  • Additional Features Stage Combat
  • Duration More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Cautions
    • Gun Shots


“A singing comic strip... bubbles with quick-hit, single-panel songs by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams.” – Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“Winning... A singing comic strip, in which scenery, characters and even songs feel as if they had been rendered in the Benday dots of bright ink we associate with the Sunday funnies.” – Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“Completely silly and intentionally camp... Superman is candy bright, as befits its comic-book source.” – Jesse Green, Vulture

Superman is fun... easily the best musical so far this season.” – Stanley Kauffmann, The New York Times

“A WHAM! POP! BAM! of energetic fun... an energy-infused, tongue-in-cheek romp that reminds us of the need for heroes every day.” – Christi Geary, ArtsWave

“Though in some ways the quintessence of the 1960s sensibility called Pop, Superman is also an affable throwback to the old-style song-and-dance show that asked only to entertain you.” – Ben Brantley, The New York Times


  • Superman Promo - Fab Nobs Theatre youtube thumbnail

    Superman Promo - Fab Nobs Theatre

  • Superman - Children's Theatre of Cincinnati youtube thumbnail

    Superman - Children's Theatre of Cincinnati

  • Seth Deconstructs "You've Got Possibilities" youtube thumbnail

    Seth Deconstructs "You've Got Possibilities"

  • Superman Sneak Peek - Encores! 2013 youtube thumbnail

    Superman Sneak Peek - Encores! 2013


  • It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman®

    Image: 2013 New York City Center Production (Joan Marcus)

  • It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman®

    Image: 2013 New York City Center Production (Joan Marcus)


Music Samples

Act I

1. Overture – Orchestra
2. Robbery – Orchestra
3. “Doing Good” – Superman
4. “We Need Him” – Lois, Max, Clark, & Chorus
5. Planet change – Orchestra
6. “Superman” – Lois
7. Planet Change – Orchestra
7a. Flying Music – Orchestra
8. “We Don’t Matter At All” – Lois & Jim
9. “Revenge” – Sedgwick
10. Daily Planet – Orchestra
11. “Woman For The Man” – Max
12. “You’ve Got Possibilities” – Sydney
13. Cue Music – Orchestra
14. “What I’ve Always Wanted” – Lois
15. “Revenge”: Reprise – Sedgwick
16. Planet change – Orchestra
17. “Ling Dance” – The Lings
18. Daily Planet – Orchestra
19. Flying Music – Orchestra
20. Change Music – Orchestra
21. Finale Act One: “It’s Super Nice” —Chorus

Act II

22. Entr’acte – Orchestra
23. “So Long, Big Guy” – Max
24. Change Music – Orchestra
25. “Strongest Man” – Superman
26. Strongest Change – Orchestra
27. “Ooh, Do You Love You” – Sydney
28. Tag: Ooh, Do You Love You – Sydney
29. “You’ve Got What I Need” – Sedgwick & Max
30. “Meanwhile” – All Principals & Chorus
31. Weirdo Music – Organ Solo
32. Change Music – Orchestra
33. “I’m Not Finished Yet” – Lois
34. “Pow! Bam! Zonk!” – Superman & Lings
35. Flying Music – Orchestra
36. Finale Ultimo – Orchestra
37. Bows – Chorus
38. Exit Music – Orchestra

Full Orchestration

Reed 1: Piccolo, Flute & Clarinet
Reed 2: Flute & Clarinet
Reed 3: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet (or Tenor Sax.) & Tenor Saxophone
Reed 4: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
Reed 5: Clarinet, Bassoon (or Baritone Sax.) & Baritone Saxophone

Trumpet 1 & 2
Trumpet 3
Trombone 1
Trombone 2
Bass Trombone 3 & Tuba

Guitar (Optional)

Percussion 1 & 2:

Timpani(2 drums)
Snare Drum
Bass Drum
Tom Toms
Conga Drum
Bongo Drums
Temple Blocks
Cymbals (large & small suspended)
Wood Block
Hi-hat Cymbals
Finger Cymbals
Chinese Crash Cymbals
Hand Cymbals
Tam Tams (large & small)
Bell Tree
Elephant Bells

Organ-Celeste (Organ-conductor’s Score)

Viola (Optional)
Cello (Optional)

  • Musical Style Classic Broadway
  • Dance Requirements Moderate
  • Vocal DemandsDifficult
  • Orchestra Size Large
  • Chorus Size Large

Licensing & Materials

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

    PLEASE BE ADVISED: There are multiple versions of this title. Before you proceed, please double-check to ensure that you are applying for the version you want. We will not be able to refund rental or shipping fees if you pay for the wrong version. If you’re not sure which version best suits your needs, you may purchase a perusal for each available version.

Music Rentals

Concord offers a full suite of resources to help you put on the show of a lifetime!
35 Libretto-Vocal Book
1 Piano-Conductor
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Reed 3
1 Reed 4
1 Reed 5
2 Trumpet 1&2
1 Trumpet 3
1 Trombone 1
1 Trombone 2
1 Trombone 3
2 Percussion 1&2
1 Guitar
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass
35 Libretto-Vocal Book
1 Piano-Conductor


Take a look below at how you can enhance your show!


Charles Strouse

Charles Strouse is one of America's most successful musical theatre composers. His first Broadway musical, Bye Bye Birdie (1960), written with his long-time collaborator Lee Adams, won him a Tony Award and the London Critics Best Foreign Musical Award. In 1970, Applause, star ...

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Lee Adams

Lee Adams began his professional career as a journalist, working as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and editor, and radio writer and interviewer. But his life took a sudden turn when his “hobby” of lyric writing led to Bye, Bye Birdie in 1960. This unheralded little Bro ...

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David Newman

David Newman's theatre credits include the book for It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…It’s Superman, produced and directed by Hal Prince; book for The Life, with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Ira Gasman (nominated for 12 Tony Awards); I Spend My Days in Longing, a compilation of t ...

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Robert Benton

Acadamy Award winner Robert Benton was raised in Waxahachie, Texas, earned his BFA degree from the University of Texas, and moved to New York for his Master's at Columbia University. He went to work at Esquire Magazine as the assistant to the art director before being drafted ...

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