News and Features

Adding Up the Reviews on DTC's 'Superman' – Just as It Flies Away

The New York Post‘s drama critic Michael Reidel has weighed in on the Dallas Theater Center’s musical revisal, It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman. The headline and sub-hed pretty much sum up the story/review: “Man of Steel Steals Hearts / It’s a hit in Dallas, but will it fly on B’way?”

With the show closing this weekend, Reidel’s is almost certainly the last review the crime-fighting Krypton  will get before whatever post-Dallas destiny for the show gets worked out.

Sooooo, according to my Officially Unbiased, Government Inspected, Finely Calibrated tally of the media outlets and theater blogs that actually reviewed the show in person (the New York Times‘ slideshow doesn’t count, they didn’t even send a critic), that means the DTC show garnered:

  • seven generally positive reviews to strong raves: Dallas Morning News, Theater Jones, Variety, Dallas Observer, Houston Chronicle, Planet Eye Traveler and the New York Post. (the Planet Eye Traveler??)
  • versus five strongly-mixed-to-negative reviews: Dallas Voice, Rant & Rave, FrontRow, WFAA and mine for KERA.

I point this out because the Post, the NYTimes and others have casually referred to the pleased critics and glowing reviews — as if these were universal. Which means, I suspect, they checked out Lawson Taitte’s rave in the News and Joe Leydon’s ecstatic write-up in Variety and maybe Gary Cogill’s decidedly mixed review at WFAA — but little else. That, after all, is the entire ‘review round-up’ provided by TheaterMania.

In balance, the critics’ consensus could be said to be mildly positive. Or positive with reservations.

In the world of comic-fandom, a mixed response seems to hold true as well. More or less. How do you measure this stuff? There have been eager, excited reports and there have been comic book guys who, no surprise, hate musicals pretty much because all musicals seem gay to them. The happy surge tends to outweigh the negative partly because many of these discussions are prompted by an initial theatergoer extolling the show, and the other comic book readers promptly express their envy and their desire to check it out for themselves. The jeering responses, on the other hand, are often based solely on the video clips.  As usual, very few people who feel lukewarm about a show are driven to post extensive comments about it. That’s why we have theater critics.

Such are the wonders of internet gossip. Whether any of this means anything to Supe’s future prospects on the Great White Way remains to be seen.

At any rate, if you wish to check my stats and come up with your own tally, you can find links to all these reviews and some of the fanboy forums here.