Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, X-Men, Spiderman and the Guardians of the Galaxy have all starred in their own films and enjoyed the adoration of audiences around the country and world. But Marvel’s heroes aren’t confined to the sliver screen. Soon, they’ll be live on stage as well.
From Jan. 15-18 the Smoothie King Center becomes Stark Tower, the home of The Avengers, as “Marvel Universe LIVE!” comes to New Orleans.
It’s a complex show that aims to recreate a fantasy world for fans who demand perfection.
Besides the Avengers, X-Men and Spiderman, this production includes 53 performers, 46 crew members, 1,700 feet of truss work, 25 projectors whose computer power is stronger than that required to run a space shuttle and The Incredible Hulk.
The Hulk receives a unique amount of attention as this character is particularly impressive. The green giant took more than 1,500 hours to build, requires two car batteries to operate, and stands 8 feet, 5 inches tall. But the cast should be acknowledged, as well.
“The casting was very, very extensive,” said Shanda Sawyer, Emmy-Award winning director, concept creator and co-writer of the production. “We took about six months and went all around the country looking for very specific skills, but knowing that people weren’t going to come in with all of the skills.
“For someone like Captain America in our show — that sequence is very motorcycle-based, so we went into the world of X Game champions and Motorcross riders, and then those guys needed to learn how to fight, how to do different stunts that they wouldn’t have been exposed to in their world. And of course, everyone had to act.”
Recreating the Marvel universe is an intimidating task, and putting it on stage is no easy feat. Sawyer can attest to that. Marvel has an incredibly large fan base that demands loyalty to the source material, and this one sticks close to the world created by the films and comic books.
But Sawyer took that into account. To ensure that the stage play withstood fan expectations, Sawyer constantly checked in with Joe Quesada, the chief creative officer of Marvel Entertainment.
“One of the things about this show that I knew going in was that all of these fans will come in with such high expectations,” Sawyer said, “and we really needed to meet those expectations about all of these characters: what their powers are, how they speak, what their relationships are with the other characters.
“You have a beautifully well-educated fan base coming in, so it was very fun in that sense, knowing that the expectations were so high.
“Joe Quesada and the rest of the Marvel team were hugely helpful with that in terms of giving us notes on our scripts and making sure that it really stayed true to the characters.”
So if you’re a fan of superheroes like Captain America or villains like Loki or you want to see Thor team up with Spiderman, this show is an opportunity to get as up close and personal to your favorite Marvel characters as possible.
The actors and actresses don’t take this opportunity for granted. For many of them, it’s a real dream.
“It’s very emotional for these performers because they take it so seriously, this honor of becoming these wonderful role models and superheroes and villains,” Sawyer said.
“I know they just love each and every performance so much because of the response they get from the audience and the look they see in these kids eyes when they’re face to face with their hero. When they’re live in front of them, it’s pretty amazing.”