Fab Nobs ‘SUPERMAN’ is a great example of how vision and a great sense of satire can change an average, awkward script into something entertaining, highlighting the amazing talent pool available in today's community theatre and what happens when a director's goal is to utilise that talent to its absolute best.
Written in 1966 and based on the Superman comic strip, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s SUPERMAN ran for a short time on Broadway, leaving an under-utilised cheesy script and score up for grabs. The Fabs Nobs production, directed by Karl McNamara, was impeccable, smart and absolutely committed to the quirky and insubstantial scenarios. Obviously a fan of the show, McNamara’s direction and improvements to the script worked extremely well. By directing the show as a farce with colorful archetypical comic strip characters, McNamara gave the camp nature and silliness of the script a solid base to work off. My only criticism is the length of the show – for such a simple script, running at three hours (with interval) was way too long. There was not enough depth in the script for a show of this length.
With musical direction by Danny Forward, the quirky score was pared down to a five piece orchestration and was delivered well by the band. The singing and harmonies were impressively delivered by an equally remarkable cast.
The acting was outstanding all-round. Blake Testro as the one and only Superman was brilliant in the role. With perfect vocals, physicality and hilarious comic timing, he completely won over the audience. Not afraid to play him as an insecure god capable of distraction, Testro’s dimwitted Superman was a morally flawed, but loveable hero. Supporting Superman and his alter ego Clark Kent was the spunky and sweet Lois Lane played by the talented Amy Larsen. Her vocals and physical performance were polished and she was likeable in the part but I would have liked to see the character developed further. It was a very safe performance.
In any good comic strip, the villains are more rounded and possess ethical insight that the hero is often lacking. The villains of this piece were no exception. James Kearney as mad scientist out for revenge, Dr. Sedgwick, was played brilliantly with energy and hilarity. Arrogant columnist Max Mencken played by Daniel O'Kane stood out among a strong supporting cast. The incomparable Lauren Edwards as the long suffering secretary bombshell stole the show with her portrayal of the provocative Sydney. Her numbers were the best in show. The rest of the supporting cast and ensemble were well utilised and offered a strong backbone to the principal players and story.
The Roy Lichtenstein pop art inspired set along with the two dimensional props were fabulous and highly functional, adding depth and humour to the scenes and script. The costumes were amazing, with appropriate 50's comic book styling and awesome color. Lighting was inspired with great use of LED lighting and floor lights. The sound, however, was a disappointment, and the only production element under par.
Overall, this production is a credit to Fab Nobs and the production team. I did not particularly love the show, but this production was more than two dimensional and a highly successful example of what attention to detail and creativity can achieve.