Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman! at the Leicester Square Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman! at the Leicester Square Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman! at the Leicester Square Theatre
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16 Feb REVIEW: It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman! at the Leicester Square Theatre

Nicknamed Superman The Musical, It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman! is a show that, before I saw it, I could have given or taken. Having never read the comic, watched the cartoons or even seen any of the films, it’s not something that would have been near the top of my “to watch” list, if I hadn’t been reviewing it. But after I gave a rare five stars to All Star ProductionsInto the Woods at Ye Olde Rose and Crown, in the knowledge that this is a West End transfer following a hugely successful run, giving it a go was a bit of a no-brainer – on the basis of the production team more than the subject matter.

It’s one of those wonderful situations where I’m glad I took the chance.

Making me laugh from curtain up to curtain down, All Star Productions present us with a full suite of caricatures painted in primary colours, visually reminiscent of the comic strip, but far funnier than I ever imagined the comic to be. The plot centres around Clark Kent (apologies, this is probably like having someone explain that you chew your food to be able to swallow it, or that Voldemort is the bad guy in Harry Potter), a reporter for the Daily Planet, whose secret alter ego, Superman, is the toast of New York City, catching criminals, saving victims and being an all-round hero. But not everyone is happy with him attracting all the plaudits; some would rather see him fail – or even be destroyed.

Of course it’s not just an adaptation of a comic strip; it’s a comic strip turned into a musical. With a catchy score from Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams that left me unsociably singing to myself on the tube home, the astronomical potential for disaster is successfully averted. At the same time, the team maintain the cartoonish quality of the musical with an ambitious (though not entirely perfect) cardboard cut out set, and through the sheer energy levels on stage, energy that would make that Duracell bunny look like a spoiled domestic pet curling up for a sleep on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

As the bunny’s eyes begin to droop, leading man Craig Berry lives up to his characters’ name in his portrayal of Superman, delivering an outstanding vocal performance, as well as some perfectly-timed facial expressions that add to the comic quality of the show. His “good”ness is perfectly balanced by the embittered Dr Sedgwick (Matthew Ibbotson), panto villain and comedy timing extraordinaire, who hatches a plan to bring down his nemesis.

It has to be said that the “West End” title carries with it a certain set of expectations, namely of a highly polished, extravagant production. It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman! is not that. With some clumsy scene changes, it’s not shiney-ed up in a Shaftesbury Avenue kind of way, but rather it takes a great fringe production, and puts it somewhere else for more people to see, without losing any of its uniqueness.

It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman is a wonderfully wacky production, playing with perspective and a heavily stylised set. Imaginative, clever and amusing, it changed my mind about Superman and gives me another reason to keep a close eye on what’s going on at All Star Productions.

Venue: Leicester Square Theatre
For tickets and information:

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
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