Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes
Undoubtedly, superheroes are hot right now. And where do they go? New Orleans, of course. Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes is having its world premiere right here in our fair city. That means it is quite possible that you’ve dined next to Captain American and/or Black Panther and didn’t even know it.
Over the past week, Feld Entertainment has transformed the Smoothie King Center into a mystical world where superheroes and villains will battle for the Wand of Watoomb, an ancient artifact with immeasurable powers. With an original script by David Love, the show starts with Dr. Strange calling on his friends--Spider-Man, The Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy to name drop a few--to help fight the likes of the evil Loki, Green Goblin, Nebula, Yondu, Lizard, Rhino, Electro, and Chitauri for control of the magical wand. True to the title, I set out to discover just what it takes to be a hero in today’s age. After a short Q & A and photo ops with the main actors/characters, the media was put through a sort of boot camp for superheroes. I was ready.
Our first stop: Wardrobe. Coming from a city where dedicating a whole room in your house to costumes is normal (or maybe that’s just me), I was excited to learn some new tips. With forty-three performers that can have up to six costume changes, it is no small feat to outfit the cast of Marvel Live. Costume designer, Mark Koss starts with a sketch and from there it goes through an approval process to ensure integrity. After many incarnations, the final designs are sent out to approximately eight costume houses, with some being built in-house and by the prestigious costume house, Parsons-Meares, where co-founder Sally Ann Pearson was recently named 2016 recipient of the Tony Honors for Excellence. Functionality and mobility are key to construction. Leather is a great medium as it is natural, breathable, and easily manipulated. Common objects around the house like the bicycle helmet is reimagined and transformed into a Stone Soldier mask. I could have wore that thing all day!
Second stop: Props. Technology has come a long way. Now it’s all about video mapping. Sets are no longer built with wood and nails but with code and computers. It brings movie magic to the live stage. The tangible props, like the swords and axes, are made with foam, which allows the casts to actually make contact without causing injury--making the interactions even more realistic, believable, and satisfying. Yet, there are some action sequences that can’t be faked with foam, like motorcycles. If you see a chopper on the stage, you know it’s real.
Last stop on our Superhero Bootcamp: Choreographed Fighting (where the waiver I had to sign and the NO open-toe shoes rule became clear). Despite my nerves, I thought, “Let’s do this! Let’s kick some bad guys butts!” Impressive is almost an understatement; the cast is a highly trained, competent group of individuals that have crafted their skill set. Backgrounds range from martial artists to gymnasts. Each move they make is deliberate and calculated. It was a mind work-out as much as it was a physical one. The cast went through a scripted fight scene with me, and when they called “Action,” I channeled my inner Black Widow and fought with intention. I forgot some of my moves, but faked it till I made it. And when I was done, they clapped…not for my skill, but for my courage!
Insider tip and what to look out for: “Groot’s entrance! It’s amazing and people are going to go crazy!” shares Captain America aka Justin Jackson.
At the end of the day, superheroes and villains have to eat, so when I asked about their restaurant of choice, there was a resounding answer of: “Coop’s!” With a tilt of my head as my eyes drifted up to the left, I smiled and thought of my friends from Wizard World Comic Con, Yup, that’s exactly where superheroes of today’s age eats!
Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes debuts, Friday, June, 23rd at Smoothie King Center at 7pm. There will be three shows you can catch on Saturday and two shows on Sunday. The cast will stay a few days after the end to film promotion footage, so make sure you keep an eye out for your favorite hero or villain walking the streets of New Orleans this weekend and coming week!
For more information visit their website at https://www.marveluniverselive.com/
Native New Orleanian, Sarah Isabelle Prevot is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Arts Administration at the University of New Orleans while also being a regular contributor to NolaVie. You can follow her on Twitter @siprevot and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.