Over at Masterworks Broadway, Seth Rudetsky has recently continued his “Deconstructions” with the entire Sony catalog and their audio-visual technology at his fingertips. As the label continues to roll out various cast albums, they have called on Seth to focus on popular performances from their numerous Columbia and RCA titles. I’m sharing this one in particular because it’s such a gem of a number, and one that I enjoy immensely.
The show was It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman. The score was written by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, the book by David Newman and Robert Benton. Harold Prince produced directed. The star was Bob Holiday as Clark Kent/Superman. Tony nominee Patricia Marand was Lois Lane. Jack Cassidy played Max Mencken, a vain editor vying with Kent for Lane’s affections. In the choice supporting role as Sydney, Mencken’s secretary, rising star Linda Lavin made a favorable impression with critics and audiences with a charming and hilarious streetwise performance that included the song “You’ve Got Possibilities,” which would become the score’s most famous number. In spite of decent reviews, the show failed, lasting 129 performances at the Alvin Theatre in 1966. Newman and Benton would later collaborate on the screenplay for the 1978 film adaptation starring Christopher Reeve.
The song is Sydney’s coy to blatant attempt to seduce Clark Kent, set to a bossa nova. Mild mannered Kent is trying to thwart the advances of the diminutive but persistent secretary – and to keep her from removing his suit (thus revealing his true identity). A 70s TV version of Superman gave us a wildly awful performance of the song from Loretta Swit. However, the song has lived on in concerts and cabarets (I saw Betty Buckley sing it with gusto in her recent engagement at Feinstein’s). Most recently, the role was played by Jenny Powers in a Dallas production that has its sights set on Broadway. Whether or not the Man of Steel will come back to NY has yet to be seen, but in the interim the show’s original cast album should suffice.
Seth takes us through the song bit by bit, pointing out elements of the vocal performance and instrumentation along the way (and I’m with him on the ending – what was that?). Enjoy: