Iowa native Edward Watts spent years working off-Broadway and in regional theater, but his career is now taking off faster than a speeding bullet! After playing Robert Semple and David Hutton in Broadway’s Scandalous last fall, Watts has scored the leading role of Superman in the Encores! revival of the 1966 comic-inspired musical It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman. Before saving the world as the Man of Steel, Watts chatted with Broadway.com about playing the legendary superhero and why this show could be a breakthrough.
What did you know about Superman before you were cast in the show?
I only knew that it existed, actually. Quite frankly, I never really thought I would play Superman. I used to work for a company that would hire out actors to play characters at their company picnics during the summer, but it wasn’t really a show—you just put the costume on and walk around and take pictures with the kids.
Are you a big fan of Superman?
I certainly was as a kid. I’ve loved the comic books and the movies, of course. So, for me to get to be a very small part of that world is very exciting and very humbling.
Do you think you’re more of a Clark Kent or a Superman?
There are things about Superman that I identify with. He is sort of convinced that the people don’t need him, and he loses his power through that psychological edge. I see correlations between being an actor—trying to find how you fit in and how you can please people. On the surface, obviously, I don’t have super powers!
You're playing this iconic dual role after having juggled two characters in Scandalous. Is this your specialty now?
Maybe! Maybe I’m gonna be known for that. The nice thing about this character is everybody knows him, as opposed to the two completely separate real-life people I played in Scandalous. We’re supposed to suspend our disbelief when we see the exact same guy with the exact same haircut and everything else but a suit and glasses on.
You wore some skimpy costumes in Scandalous. Can we expect anything like that in Superman?
I’ll be far more covered up in this. Although I think maybe wearing the skintight suit may be tougher. I guess I have been known to be cast as the guy who takes his shirt off. I don’t have any issues with it whatsoever. As a matter of fact, in some ways it’s quite nice to be known for that sort of thing. I know that someday the calls will not come in for those roles, but hopefully I’ll have some other things to fall back on [laughs]. I like to think of myself as a pretty good actor-singer.
Speaking of Scandalous, do you think that Kathie Lee Gifford will come to see this show?
I think she will! The day the announcement came out that I was cast as Superman, she sent out a Tweet, so she was definitely keeping track of it. She and Hoda [Kotb] seem to go to a lot of events, so I would love it for them to come.
Do you have a favorite Kathie Lee Gifford story?
There’re so many! My favorite one was a live television interview, and I said something along the lines of, “Well of course I have to start by saying that Kathie Lee is just one of the sweetest people ever,” and she immediately said, “Oh, just tell ‘em we’ve been sleeping together since the first day of rehearsal!” I watched the tape later and I think my mouth hit the ground [laughs].
This is a great role and a great opportunity. Do you feel like this is a breakthrough for you?
Boy, I hope so! Judging from the interest so far, there’s a good chance. Hopefully we’re prepared to make the best of it, and hopefully people in New York and beyond will know a little bit more about who I am.