Friday, October 18, 2013

Bill Gates and Superman

Seeing a world premiere play about Bill Gates at age 20 and a satiric 1960s Broadway musical about Superman in the same week was an interesting experience. First, by Evelyn Jean Pine, is a two-act, one-set naturalistic play that takes place at an Albuquerque coffee shop adjoining the First World Altair Computer Conference in 1976. The birth of the personal computer age is a fascinating subject and a young Bill Gates is a great choice for a complex antihero.

The cast was uniformly good, particularly Rinabeth Apostol in a cliched role as a tough, heart-of-gold waitress and Jeremy Kahn as the wildly driven Gates. The history discussed and explained in the play is consistently interesting, but the personal relationships read as phony and slightly off. The play is still resonating in my head, though, which is a good sign and it's worth checking out at the small Stage Werx theatre on Valencia between 15th and 16th.

For the last month at the Eureka Theatre in the Embarcadero Center, 42nd Street Moon has been presenting the 1966 musical, It's A Bird...It's A Plane...It's Superman. Written by the Bye Bye Birdie team of Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, the music is holding up surprisingly well though it's burdened with a silly, satiric book by David Newman and Robert Benton who would soon become famous for their Bonnie and Clyde screenplay the following year.

The production is closing after this Sunday's matinee, but it's worth catching too, mostly for Lucas Coleman as Superman / Clark Kent, where he uses his tall, rubbery body to charming effect as both characters. He's supported by one of the best casts the company has presented, including Jen Brooks above as Lois Lane. Brooks is also the Dance Captain for the show, and the Swinging Sixties choreography by Staci Arriaga is amusing and very well done.


Markley Morris said...

Hi, Mike. It was great to see you at First and I fully agree with your evaluation - it's still reverberating in my head too.

And I saw Superman - I was pretty bored with the songs but loved the performances. You're exactly right about the delightful Lucas Coleman's rubbery body and charm.

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Markley: Lovely bumping into you too.