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Holy Spider Webs- 'Batman -Live' Hits The UK

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Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
Holy Spider Webs- 'Batman -Live' Hits The UK

'Holy pyrotechnics, Robin! The Caped Crusader is being brought to life in an ambitious stage spectacular.

By Peter Lyle

Hollywood screenwriting guidebooks routinely repeat the idea that to have any chance of getting your blockbuster greenlit, you need to be able to distil it to a one-line 'elevator pitch’: a short sentence that cites a couple of past box office hits and perhaps an inventive location, by way of encapsulating the essence of your new story.
By that standard, 'Batman Live' might be in trouble.
The people behind the arena extravaganza, which will have its world premiere in Manchester in July, are snappier and more forthcoming when saying what it isn’t.
'It’s not Batman on Ice.’ 'It’s not Batman the Musical.’ 'It doesn’t have long, discursive scenes – Batman doesn’t lie back and say: “Isn’t that an interesting cloud?”’
By any other measure, not least the track records of the people involved, it looks like a winner.

It’s a play of sorts, but it’s going to be performed in Britain’s biggest, grandest arenas rather than theatres. There will be acrobatics, pyrotechnics, stuntmen, supervillains and screeching Batmobiles on a 100ft-wide, 60ft-deep performance area. Behind them, a giant video wall will flash panels from comic strips and special effects, and give the appearance of interacting with the live performers on stage.
It seems set to be a spectacle unlike any that have gone before, but it’s not entirely dissimilar to one that’s about to open, albeit on the other side of the Atlantic.
The much-delayed, $65million Broadway musical 'Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark' has been keeping New York’s gossip columns busy for months with tales of safety inspections and high-wire acts gone seriously wrong. To succeed and recoup its initial investment and $1million a week running costs, it will have to be the city’s biggest draw for years to come.

The Batman show’s big difference is that it will come to its audiences, and at rather cheaper prices, provided their city has a barn big enough.
After its Manchester premiere, Batman Live will move through nine British and Irish cities over the following 11 weeks, with up to three performances, each in the region of 85 minutes, per day. Provided it fills its various houses throughout, the show will have played to half a million Britons before its October move to Europe.
A business model that rests on luring one per cent of the national population to see a single piece of live theatre may sound ambitious, but it’s the kind of scale at which Nick Grace – the showbiz guru behind previous arena-filling, multimillion-pound-making shows based on hit 'properties’ 'Mamma Mia!' and 'Walking With Dinosaurs' – operates.
When he unveiled 'Batman Live' at DC Comics’ New York headquarters in late October, Grace told the assembled press he had been a childhood fan, making his own version of Batman’s utility belt and developing his first crush on Catwoman; every bit the little boy whose dream came true.
But if you were being hard-headed about it, Batman has consistent market appeal. In February last year, an ancient issue of Superman became the first comic ever to sell for more than $1million. Three days later, the 1939 comic in which Batman first appeared, Detective Comics No 27, went for $75,000 more again.
Film director Christopher Nolan has just confirmed he’s making a follow-up to 'The Dark Knight' (the third-biggest box office hit ever) for 2012.
At the same time, different incarnations of Batman thrive in dozens of cartoons, computer games and comic books. Geoff Johns, the writer responsible for 'Batman Live’s' story, says his hero resonates because – like Harry Potter or Oliver Twist – 'he’s an orphan. He’s experienced something that all of us can relate to – loss – that’s just a part of being alive and being a human.’
So, too, has Batman’s sidekick, Robin.
The show will open with the trapeze show at which Robin’s parents, circus act The Flying Graysons, are killed. Thereafter, 'Batman Live' will motor through a rapid sequence of scenes, none of them clocking in at much over two minutes, so as to keep the momentum up and the younger audience members utterly engrossed.
There will be an onstage disaster with a hot-air balloon and a Joker face whose eyes, teeth and hair are made up of dozens of dancers – each surely counting as one of what Grace says are the show’s 'seven or eight, “Wow!” moments’.
Take that, Spider-Man.

The 'Batman Live' Set Design.
Holy Spider Webs- 'Batman -Live' Hits The UK

The 2011 UK Tour Dates:
Manchester: Manchester Evening News Arena. 20th - 24th July
Newcastle: Metro Radio Arena 27th - 31th Jul
Glasgow: SECC 3rd - 7th Aug
Sheffield: Motorpoint Arena 10th - 14th Aug
Birmingham: NIA 17th - 21st Aug

London: The O2 24th Aug - 4th Sep

Liverpool: Echo Arena 7th - 11th Sep
Nottingham: Trent FM Arena 14th - 18th Sep
Dublin: The O2 28th SEP - 1st Oct
Belfast: Odyssey Arena 5th - 8th Oct

Updated On: 1/30/11 at 07:47 PM