Get Cultured — July 28, 2015 at 3:35 pm

SUPER! is the Mix Tape of Comic Book Stories



Ok, let’s think about what would make a cool theatrical production in 2015 if we mashed some pop culture together, shall we? Do we have super heroes? Yes. Do we have musical numbers? Check. Origin story? Its’ there. Love story? Of course. A bitter nemesis? Wouldn’t be good without one. Seems like we have everything on the list, so now what? We bring it to the Midtown International Theatre Festival and see how it soars!

The great thing about these types of festivals is that we get to experienced the joy of watching works in progress come to life. Seeing them raw, on their way to another production. The kinks that need work, and the reactions of the always adoring but judgmental audience that comes to these things, you get to get as close as you can to see if the whole thing has a future to begin with. It is a stressful time for everyone involved, and your heart and soul needs to go in it if you want success. Some crumble under the pressure; some realized it’s best to move on, but some show promise and others the quality of the team working on it. SUPER! written entirely (book, music, lyrics) by Aaron Michael Krueger falls on the latter two, giving us a fun (but far from perfect) time, and revealing the great talents of its creator in the process.

The story itself is nothing to be crazy about. An amalgam of Superman and Spider Man origin stories, with a little Batman and Lex Luthor sprinkled in, the book does not gain any points for originality. The costume itself looks like Marvel comics’ long forgotten but incredible character “Marvelman.” The title and name of the super hero also lack any sense of creativity. It wants to scream Superman so bad that we can almost hear it every time they say Super. As a comic book enthusiast, it felt like watching something a person that hasn’t read many graphic novels, but seen plenty of super hero movies will write as a parody. This is not a knock on the writing, but its main fault. See the writing is entertaining, light, follows a straight-line story, and it has many moments I genuinely liked. But the lack of originality held it back from being special.


The cast itself put their heart and soul into the show. While they didn’t exactly pull off every musical number, the ones they could were highlights of the 90 minute run. Many of the singers seemed like they had problems remembering the songs or rhythm, and sometimes would mumble the words. Either that or they will go so low; we could barely hear them in the back. The theater is not that big.

Adam Keller did a good job as the main character this is based on, but he lacked the magnetic personality to make us feel awed by him, while his younger self, played by Alex Arlotta, was actually charismatic and even made us care more about the character in his brief time on stage. The two standouts were Jessica Dorcey as the love interest Laura, and Derek Speedy as Alex Lukas, the antagonist. Jessica’s charm made the contrived love story work, and the Derek Speedy musical numbers were the best in the whole ensemble.

Being a critic is sometimes hard, especially for shows in festivals. Most of them, like I mention before, are works in progress. The one thing to get out of this festival for everyone is what he or she can learn and what’s the next step. This musical spotlighted the massive amount of talent out there. Besides the cast and the creator, we have a team that put on an impressive production with very minimal budget. Lexie Fennell Frare directed and choreographed it in a way in which the pace never felt off. Even though with all the criticism I’ve thrown at the show, I would easily be excited if I see her name in another program. The same with the costume designers Julia and Deborah Kruger, which created a real feel to this comic book story without a set to help them. Aaron Michael Krueger has presented himself as a player of this game with a lot of potential to create something wonderful. Maybe exploring the world of superheroes is for him, he definitely has a good idea of how to put them on stage. Hopefully next time we get more of a new piece, and less of an homage.

SUPER! is a good work in progress that should be seen by all comic book geeks like me out there. Playing as part of The Midtown International Theater Festival at The Davenport Theater, SUPER! goes up one last time on August 2. Fly there, and see what superheroes can do on an Off-Broadway stage.

I’m rating this play based on potential:



Twisted Talk: Are you a comic book fan? Have you seen any shows during the Midtown International Theatre Festival? Discuss below!


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