SupermanBobHoliday Staff (SBH): Hello, Kathy. It’s marvelous to hear from you.
Kathy Recchia (KR): Thank you. I’m so happy to have found the original Broadway Superman!
SBH: We understand that you have a couple of connections with Bob Holiday.
KR: I’ve got an old one and a new one: This summer, my youth theatre group is staging “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman” in upstate New York.
SBH: And the old one?
KR: I actually met Bob Holiday during his second career. He built a beautiful home for my father in the Lake Wallenpaupak area.
SBH: Did you know he was Superman?
KR: Oh yes. My dad was quite excited to tell me that the gentleman I was meeting had been Superman on Broadway. As a musical theatre lover, I filed that information away. But I was a hard-working young adult then and never thought I might actually produce the play.
SBH: What changed?
KR: Years later, after I married and my son was born, I got to indulge in my passion for musical theatre. And, to my delight, my son shared my passion. As a result—and because we live way upstate New York—I began producing and directing musical theatre for youth. That’s when “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman” re-entered my psyche. I bought the CD and it became part of my resource file.
SBH: Your company is called The Book and Blanket Players—just delightful. What are some of the shows you’ve done in the past?
KR: A couple of years ago, we staged a musical version of Pride and Prejudice. And early on, my son and I wrote an original musical called “Road to Dannemora.” It’s an homage to the Hope and Crosby Road Movie with an Adirondack setting. We’d love to have adults perform it, and there may be some renewed interest with the unfortunate prison break that recently occurred at the real penitentiary in Dannemora, NY.
SBH: That’s an interesting connection. Although I’m sure your play is a lot more upbeat than a prison break!
KR: Definitely! And this year we’re excited to have dusted off the Superman CD. I had never seen the show produced when we decided to take the leap and do it. Since then, I traveled to New Jersey to see a community theatre production. I also made an appointment at the Lincoln Center Library to view the Goodspeed Opera House production.
SBH: Goodspeed Opera House was one of the
first revivals done of “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman”. We think it
was actually the first production done without Bob Holiday as Superman. After
the Broadway show closed, Bob reprised his role in two revivals. He was that sought after.
Correction! An article written by lyricist Lee Adams appeared in the Goodspeed Opera House program. Mr. Adams made reference to a prior production staged in San Jose, CA. He also commented that the musical had become something of a "cult classic." We can probably assume there had been a number of revivals before Goodspeed's. --Hat Tip to Brian McKernan.
And, of course, as fan of the original Broadway show, I really shouldn't have forgetten the 1975 ABC special. Right? --TC
SBH: I didn’t know that the Goodspeed Opera House production had been recorded.
KR: Yes, and I enjoyed watching it.
SBH: Tell us about the staging for your production.
KR: We call it the Iron Man of musical theatre because we put it together in a week. Of course, there is much pre-rehearsal prep work done individually. We cast the show at the end of May, and have a cast of 25 children, ages 9 to 17. They are very excited about the play and are eager to start work. They’ve been charged with learning their lines and becoming very familiar with the music before our week together, which begins on August 10.
SBH: And this is no bare bones production, is it?
KR: No. We have a choreographer at work creating movement, and we’ll have a small, 6-piece orchestra under the music direction of Roger Andrews, who recently retired from the Metropolitan Opera. And we’re busy building sets and working on props. Those are really important in a Superman production.
SBH: Yes. Bob was able to show super strength with the help of a hidden forklift and a few other special props. One prop that they had to change mid-way through the run of the show was a lead pipe. Bob got hit in the leg, for real. They substituted a plastic pipe after that mishap. Will your Superman fly?
KR: No, not in a “Peter Pan” sense, but we will be using some illusions and gags that we hope the cast and the audience will find amusing.
SBH: I’ve seen about half of the West Coast revivals of the show, and those kinds of “theatre magic” went over really well.
KR: Our performance is August 15, and we can hardly wait to “muscle” through!
SBH: Thanks, Kathy, for sharing your story with us. You’re the person who ties together both of Bob Holiday’s careers: as a great actor and as a successful home builder. What an amazing journey.