In this sweetly charming original work by Artistic Director Aaron Thielen, with catchy music and lyrics by Chicago Renaissance man Michael Mahler, the Marriott has a bonafide hit that deserves a long, successful life beyond Lincolnshire.
Aspiring 28-year-old comic book artist, Hero Batowski, still spends his “Superhero Life” at home in Milwaukee, caring for and helping his dad run Brew City Comics. Kirk, Hero’s cousin and best friend, is determined to help him escape the funk he’s been in since his mom was killed in a car accident several years ago. Dragging his cousin to a bar, Hero runs into Jane, his former girlfriend. His life gets an exhilarating jump-start until tragedy strikes again. Along with Hero’s father, Al (the always reliable Don Forston), Kirk’s wise-cracking, “12-going-on-40” brother, Nate (a droll Jonah Rawitz), Susan (a very funny Tina Fey-like Dara Cameron), Jane’s tightly-wound friend and fellow teacher, Hero’s life overflows with superheroes whose powers lie in their devoted friendship. And that’s the real power of this show: it’s about everyday people audiences will recognize and care about. The story moves as smoothly as Thomas M. Ryan’s rotating, ever-changing set and Mahler’s pop-rock score, a blend of Alan Menken (“Newsies”) and David Yazbeck (“The Full Monty”).
David H. Bell has directed a talented cast of his own musical superheroes. Good-looking Erich Bergen (Bob Gaudio of “Jersey Boys”) and lovely Heidi Kettenring both bring strong musicality, humor, compassion and real chemistry to Hero and Jane, while Alex Goodrich’s lovably quirky, caffeinated Kirk almost steals this fresh, funny and simply fantastic new show.