‘Superman’ Musical Revival Update: Lex Luthor Joins Cast, Story Takes Place In 1939

Last April, word broke that comic scribe Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa had signed on to write an updated version of the musical “It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman” with director Kevin Moriarty at the Dallas Theater Center in Dallas, Texas. With the revived musical scheduled to open in June, Aguirre-Sacasa has started to elaborate on the changes he made to the original musical by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams — the Broadway legends behind “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Aguirre-Sacasa told Comic Book Resources the story will be set in 1939, one year after Superman’s first sighting in Metropolis.

“By making it a year after Superman’s debut, we could cut into the story,” he explained. “Enough time has passed that Lois Lane is already in love with Superman (and not interested in Clark) and Lex Luthor wants to kill Superman.” Aguirre-Sacasa also indicated that the interplay between Clark and Lois would be in the style of the classic ’40s film, “His Girl Friday.”

While the original production of “It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman” was fairly faithful to the dynamic between Superman/Clark Kent and Lois Lane, it omitted several key members of Superman’s supporting cast in favor of new characters like Max Mencken — Clark’s rival columnist at The Daily Planet — and Dr. Abner Sedgwick, a mad scientist clearly in the mold of Lex Luthor. Although Dr. Sedgwick had a singing role in the original, Luthor is reportedly taking over the songs sung by Mencken.

Aguirre-Sacasa also spoke at length about the villains featured in his new story.

“Luthor assembles a team of super-villains to do his dirty work for him, arming them each with a different colored piece of kryptonite (He’s trying to fabricate green kryptonite, but he can’t figure out the last, unknown element),” explained Aguirre-Sacasa. “The villains are all drawn from Superman’s history, recent and distant. The Prankster and Toyman, of course, and Magpie from John Byrne’s run (though she’s been retro-fitted into the period), Terra-Man from the 1970s (the musical’s debuting in Texas, so it’s great to have a cowboy in there), the Scarlet Widow, who’s from the old radio serial (here a ’sapphic scourge of the underworld’) and Hocus and Pocus, who will be like evil magicians from vaudeville.”

The project was undertaken with the full approval of Strouse and Adams, who will be “slightly re-writing the original songs” to match the updated story as well as composing new songs for this production, including a duet between Lois and Clark and a “Kryptonian lullaby” at the start of the show.

Lois Lane’s modern day rival, Cat Grant will also play a major role within the story.

“Grant comes into the newsroom with a lot of attitude,” explained Aguirre-Sacasa. “She’s challenging Lois’s status as queen bee at the Planet and setting her (romantic) sights on Clark, while pursing the juiciest bit of gossip ever: The rumor that Superman has a secret identity!”

The story will also feature Clark Kent during his teens in Smallville with his first love, Lana Lang.

“It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman” will run June 18 – July 25, 2010 at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas, Texas.

What do you think about the changes made to “It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman”? Do you think that this production will eventually find its way back to Broadway? Duck into a phone booth and let us know what you’re thinking in the comment section below or break into a song on Twitter!