The History of Invulnerability explores the sad tale of a legendary creator

Dan Beckmann, Jim Lichtscheidl, and Alex Brightwell.

Dan Beckmann, Jim Lichtscheidl, and Alex Brightwell.

Over the eight decades since he was introduced in the pages of Action Comics #1, Superman has seen his powers expanded and retracted, his world defined, redefined, and rebuilt. He has survived a lame "death" and an even lamer rebirth. Even the parade of bad films (i.e., ones made after Superman II) haven't stopped the superhero.

David Bar Katz digs deep into the character's history, tracing his impact via the life of one of his creators, Jerry Siegel. It's territory that's been explored before by the likes of Michael Chabon and comic-book creator Rich Veitch, and Katz mines the same rich vein in The History of Invulnerability.

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Hayley Finn's engrossing and intimate vision of the play, now playing at the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company, gets a major boost from the performance of Jim Lichtscheidl as Siegel. He brings all of the varied emotions Siegel felt about Superman over the years, from the pride of creation and giddy thrill of success to the crushing heartbreak and long years of obscurity after Superman was taken away from him.

Playwright Katz also explores the connection between Superman, his Jewish creators (and the largely Jewish comic-book industry of the 1930s and '40s), and the unfolding Holocaust in Europe. 

This isn't a feel-good tale by any stretch. The bright colors and heroic actions of the hero play against the troubles Siegel and co-creator Joe Schuster (played by Alex Brightwell) had after they sold their creation for $130, and even more starkly when played against scenes in a concentration camp.

Finn gathers a strong ensemble who take on the various roles, from Superman's gal, Lois Lane, to the various forces Siegel fights against through the years. Lightscheidl spends plenty of time talking to his creation, who is brought to life (tights and all) by Dan Beckmann.


The History of Invulnerability
Through May 11
Hillcrest Center Theatre
1978 Ford Pkwy., St. Paul
For tickets and more information, call 651.647.4315 or visit online.