By Patty Fantasia

The World Arena Tour of “Batman Live” made its Las Vegas debut at the Thomas & Mack Center with performances running from October 3-7 and it was an entertaining delight for all Caped Crusader fans.

The show premiered in the UK on July 19, 2011 and has received accolades in the 15 countries and 28 cities across Europe and South America where it has played since.  Performed in six languages and already seen by over 600,000 people, many may mistake “Batman Live” for a children’s show, but in fact this action packed stage tribute to one of our most beloved superheroes is aimed more at an older audience.

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Perhaps the most striking aspects of the production are the multi million dollar video screens and intricate sets that bring the story to life.  In effect they can almost be considered characters themselves the way they are interwoven throughout the plot.  The stage features a 105’ video wall consisting of 2 million LEDs and it weighs 33,000 pounds, has 415,000 pixels, 15mm pitch and can generate 4 trillion colors.  Designed especially for this tour, it uses 14,800 magnets as part of the fixing system and has 305 custom-made decks making up the 60’ x 100’ stage.  Hanging above it is a custom-made truss incorporating lighting and automation.  Weighing approximately 88,000 pounds, there are 125,000 pounds of equipment in the production, which takes two days to build in each Arena, but only five hours to strike afterwards.

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Two and a half years in the making, the show was a unique collaboration between Warner Bros. Consumer Products, DC Entertainment and Water lane Productions and featured a 42 member cast along with a brand new original storyline. This fresh take was adapted from the DC Comics’ stories and characters and begins with Bruce Wayne’s childhood tragedy of seeing both of his parents slain then proceeds with his transformation into Batman before focusing on the brutal slaying of Dick Grayson’s family and his desire for justice.  After becoming Wayne’s ward Grayson eventually dons the guise of Robin to help his hero Batman bring down The Joker and a cacophony of criminal favorites including The Penguin, The Riddler, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Two Face. The show also features beloved good guy characters like Commissioner Gordon and Alfred the Butler Promoted in Las Vegas by Justice Entertainment Group, “Batman Live” delivered a non-stop thrill ride exploring various parts of Gotha City including the Big Top atmosphere of Haly’s Circus, the sparkling sophistication of The Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge, the menacing depths of Arkham Asylum and the underground charm of the Batcave.  There’s also a new, revolutionary Batmobile featured, which was designed by Professor Gordon Murray exclusively for the show.  The process from the receipt of the approved design for the car to delivery of the first automobile took approximately 16 weeks.

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Perhaps the most impressive aspect of “Batman Live” was its ability to combine the story of beloved comic book heroes with the spectacle of amazing acrobatics, and the elements of magic, dancing and illusion.  One of the most captivating scenes in the show was when the Flying Graysons were murdered.  The high flying tragic aerialists performed a number of death defying stunts as part of their act before meeting their doom and as the action unfolds it is dramatically portrayed blending live stage action with the use of one of the show’s magnificent video screen sequences.  Featuring a cast of 42 actors, the show tours with 115 people on the road made up of performers, acrobats, stunt people, crew, caterers, merchandise staff and truck drivers and the production travels in twenty 53-foot semi-trailer trucks.  Backstage it takes the costume department one minute and five seconds and four people to change Batman into Bruce Wayne.  There are 490 costume elements in the show with the sculpting of the body for the Batman suit taking over 100 hours.  Finally, the recording of the soundtrack was done at Abbey Road Studios in London with a 92-piece orchestra.

The team responsible for developing “Batman Live” is an impressive one beginning with Creative Director Anthony Van Laast whose choreographic credits for theatre include “Mamma Mia” (worldwide), “Sister Act” (London Palladium), and the US and UK tours of “Jesus Christ Superstar”.  Laast has also worked in Las Vegas before on “EFX” starring Michael Crawford and with Siegfried and Roy.   Co-Director James Powell’s credits include productions of “Singin’ in the Rain” (Associate Director of the west Yorkshire Playhouse, Royal National Theatre), “The Witches of Eastwick” (Resident Director Australia); and “Les Miserables” (Associate Director in London and Co-Director of the UK Tour and in Spain and the USA, and Director in Berlin). Executive Producer Nick Grace has over 15 years experience produces a variety of Arena shows and his firm Nick Grace Management are currently Associate Producers of the International Tour of “Mamma Mia”, which has visited 35 countries and been seen by more than 4.3 million people across the world.  Writer Allan Heinberg’s previous credits include: Party of Five, Sex in the City, Gilmore Girls and The OC.  Heinberg also developed the animated series Legion of Super Heroes for Warner Brother Animation and has worked on other comics including JLA with Geoff Johns, Superman/Batman, Wonder Woman and Uncanny X-Men.  Other notables on the creative team are the aforementioned Professor Gordon Murray who designed the sleek Batmobile for the show, Production Designer ES Devlin, Costume Designer Jack Galloway, Technical Director Jake Berry, Music Composer James Seymour Brett, Sound Designer Simon Baker, Video Producer Sam Pattinson, Lighting Designer Patrick Woodroffe, and Circus Consultants called The Circus Space.

From Las Vegas the United States tour continues on to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri.