Bob Holiday, Broadway's First Superman
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Read the Broadway Backstory from an Original Cast Member!

Judy Newman Greenhut was a cast member in the original Broadway production of "It's A Bird It's A Plane It's Superman©". We caught up with Judy on the Facebook Bob Holiday page* and spent a wonderful afternoon talking together.

Judy Newman and Bob Holiday

SupermanBobHoliday Staff (SBH): Hello, Judy. It is a delight to talk with you. I’d like to introduce you to our readers. Judy was one of the dancers in the original Broadway production of "It's a Bird It's a Plane It's Superman©".

Judy Newman Greenhut (JN): : I’m so happy to talk with you, Toni. "It's A Bird It's A Plane It's Superman©" was my first Broadway show. I was just in awe of everything that went into the production.

SBH: How were you cast in the show?

JN: I was a dance student in Florida, and Ernest Flatt [choreographer for "It's A Bird It's A Plane It's Superman©"] was there scouting. He liked several of the dancers at our school and invited us to join the cast. After a few weeks of choreography and rehearsal, we all traveled to Philadelphia for the tryout performances.

SBH: History tells us that those tryouts were not well received. What was your impression?

JN: The funniest thing happened on opening night. Superman flies in to stop a robbery at the Bank of Metropolis. But the kinks hadn’t all been worked out in the flying equipment, and Bob—Superman—flew in backwards with his cape flung forward, covering his face.

SBH: What? I’ve never heard that. What did you all do?

JN: Just what we were supposed to. The script called for us to be amazed and surprised, and we were amazed and surprised! Bob landed on cue, recovered, sang “Doing Good,” and changed into Clark Kent. We never had to break character, because there was no “oh ho hum, there’s Superman again” with an entrance like that!

SBH: Your first musical number in the show is “We Need Him.” I just love how the song introduces the audience to the Citizens of Metropolis.

JN: Yes, even though I was a dancer, we had to sing, too. You hear all of us on the cast album in the songs like “We Need Him” and “It’s Super Nice.” Charles Strouse was just the nicest man, really super nice. He used to tease me about being shy singing in auditions.

Judy Newman

SBH: The music of the show is just amazing. I’m surprised to hear you say you were hesitant to sing at the audition, because the whole cast sounds so great together.

JN: It didn’t hurt to have the 26-piece orchestra supporting us all. But you’re right, the Philly critics weren’t kind to the show. We shut down the Philadelphia tryouts and headed to New York. Normally a show will have tryouts in several cities, but we just headed to Broadway with no further out-of-town performances. The show tightened up, some songs were dropped, and Lois Lane was re-cast (although I never heard why). By opening night, we were ready to go!

SBH: Sounds like you really enjoyed being a part of "It's A Bird It's A Plane It's Superman©".

JN: Oh, I did! I’ll always remember it as my first show on Broadway. It was a great experience. I tried to learn every part in the show, which paid off when we had a terrible flu run through the cast. I actually got to play one of the Flying Lings!

Judy Newman

SBH: No!

JN: Yes! I knew the choreography, and the “Lings” wore masks and dressed in loose black costumes, so I could get away with playing a man.

SBH: I truly believe that Superman fighting the Flying Lings constituted one of the finest fight scenes ever staged on Broadway. I’m amazed that you could just step into that role!

JN: It’s one of my many great memories of "It's A Bird It's A Plane It's Superman©". You know, everyone was so nice, really everyone. I ran into Linda Lavin [Sydney] several years after the show closed, and we connected really well. Don Chastain [Jim Morgan] was a terrific guy. And Jack Cassidy [Max Mencken] was so generous with all of us. He would bring the whole cast to after-hours private clubs where we could relax and unwind after the show.

We had a wonderful time with each other. We were like a big family backstage. It was a lot of fun. We dancers had a bowling night with the “Show League.” I got to meet Sammy Davis, Jr. and Lola Falana; they’d buy drinks for everyone if there was a birthday! Everyone was friendly, it was NOT an “I am a STAR” kind of attitude at all.

Judy Newman and Bob Holiday

SBH: Any special memories of Bob Holiday?

JN: Oh yes, I got to work directly with Bob for two weeks in pre-production. The show used me as a stand-in for Linda Lavin to work out the choreography for “You’ve Got Possibilities.”

SBH: The best known song in the show!

JN: Bob was so sweet, a real smooth operator. He gave me an autographed copy of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet as a thank-you gift for working with him. I was so sad it was lost when Hurricane Fran destroyed our house. You can’t replace a personal gift like that.

SBH: Oh, I’m so sorry!

JN: Thank you.

SBH: Have you kept dancing?

JN: Oh, yes, I kept dancing, and I still teach to this day.

SBH: That's wonderful. Well, Judy, you are a big part of one of the greatest memories of my childhood. It’s been wonderful to talk with you and get an inside view of "It's A Bird It's A Plane It's Superman©". Thank you for this wonderful chat.

JN: You are more than welcome, Toni. It’s been fun to dance down Memory Lane.

* If you'd like to join Facebook's Bob Holiday page, PM Toni VallesKey Collins to let her know you're interested.

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