There has never been a stage show quite like Batman Live: World Arena Tour.
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark comes closest, although some fans of the web-slinger might find all that song-slinging to be more of a distraction than an enticement.
Batman Live is like a Batman movie onstage.
It comes to Memorial Coliseum for three shows Tuesday and Wednesday.
Like the recent trio of Batman films, Batman Live: World Arena Tour is largely a British production.
London being the home of both the fictional Sherlock Holmes and the often fictionalized Jack the Ripper, it is as viable a stand-in for Batman’s Gotham City as any American metropolis.
Bristol-born actor George Turvey plays the Caped Crusader and his alter ego Bruce Wayne in Batman Live.
Turvey says the stage show takes only a few of its cues from Christopher Nolan’s dour Dark Knight trilogy.
I’d say it takes elements from everything, he says. the movies, the animated series, the original comics, the video games. It’s not really skewed in any one specific direction.
The show is meant to be family friendly, Turvey says.
Family friendly in this context apparently means that a family should have a high tolerance for obviously choreographed violence and a low tolerance for Freudian interpretation of bats.
Turvey says this show has something that Nolan’s films generally eschewed: humor.
Yeah, there’s definitely some humor in it, he says. I don’t think you could do a stage show that was quite as dark as the latest films. I love the latest films, but I also love Michael Keaton’s Batman. He did it with a wink and a smile the whole time.
Batman’s sidekick, Robin, is restored to his rightful place in the Dynamic Duo and the show features an enormous lineup of villains that was once referred to in the comic books as the Rogues Gallery: The Joker, Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, The Scarecrow and Harley Quinn.
I’d say it’s very unique, Turvey says. It has everything you’d kind of want from a live-action Batman show.
It even has a sleek new Batmobile, created by Gordon Murray, designer of Formula One race cars.
And, of course, Batman Live: World Arena Tour has Turvey, who admits that in all the years he attended the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London, he never once contemplated playing Batman.
Still, Batman is the sort of role that every boy dreams all his life of playing, whether he ends up becoming an actor or a plumber.
I’ve got three brothers, he says. I grew up sort of fighting them all the time anyway. For me, it was a great moment to be able to tell them I would be playing Batman. They were all very excited for me.
Playing Batman onstage is not like playing Falstaff. It’s not even like playing Robin Hood.
It requires an almost unprecedented level of preparation and maintenance.
I’ve always been a very physically fit guy, he says. But I definitely had to up my fitness level.
Turvey says he had to go through several regimens of fight training, some designed for the stage and some adapted to the stage.
The suit itself is quite heavy, he says. You need a certain level of physical fitness just to wear it. (Batman) is such an image of strength.
He can’t be bent over double trying to find his breath, Turvey says, laughing.
Whenever Turvey gets a two-week break, he collapses and sleeps for 36 hours, he says.
It’s very tiring, he says. Adrenaline and the reaction of the audiences gets me through it night after night.
Turvey believes Batman endures because he’s a superhero who had to create himself from the ground up.
I think it’s because he’s just a man, he says. He has no superhero powers. He has the same limitations as all of us. He is driven to do right and do justice. It’s like he’s the best version all of us.
If you goWhat: Batman Live: World Arena Tour
Where: Memorial Coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave.
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Admission: Tickets, from $19.50 to $79.50, are available at all Ticketmaster outlets and charge-by-phone, 1-800-745-3000.
By the numbers20
Number of 53-foot tractor-trailer trucks that haul the show
Days it takes to build the production in each venue
Number of people the show tours with
Width of the video wall
Pounds of equipment in the production
Pounds of confetti at the ready for the Joker’s gun-shaped cannon
Number of people it takes to change Batman into Bruce Wayne
Seconds it takes to change Batman into Bruce Wayne
Costume elements in the show
Batman Live: World Arena Tour