This post has been corrected, as detailed below.
“Batman Live,” a high-intensity stunt-and-story production with 42 cast members, elaborate sets, pyrotechnics and a 105-foot bat-shaped LED video wall, is scheduled to kick off a North American tour at the Honda Center in Anaheim, with eight performances Sept. 5-9. The arena production that began in Britain last year is also set to visit Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles for eight shows Sept. 27-30.
“Batman Live” isn’t a musical nor is it some ice-skating Gotham escapade — the production is closer to the scenario spectacles that fans might see with the “Indiana Jones” attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The scripted adventure pits Batman and Robin against the Joker, Catwoman, the Riddler, Two-Face, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn and the Penguin, and the settings take audiences to the high-tech confines of the Batcave, the dank depths of brutal Arkham Asylum and the Penguin’s chilled and glittering Iceberg Lounge.
The show, produced by Nick Grace of Water Lane Productions, has been a hit in Europe and parts of Latin America and earned fairly good reviews. In Britain, a critique by Sam Jones of the Guardian made it clear that the show goes for giddy bombast as opposed to graphic-novel gravitas:
“Fortunately for its young audience, Batman Live has more in common with the comics and Tim Burton films than graphic novels and Christopher Nolan movies. Despite a huge set that presents Gotham as a hellish metropolis, jagged and malevolent of skyline, and dirty and dark of street, the production has, for the most part, reined in the more unpalatable aspects of sociopathic vigilantism. And so the figure who strutted across the vast stage was a sanitized Batman, a crimefighter who prizes justice over revenge; a Dark Knight rendered a paler shade of black. There was, however, still plenty to thrill and chill the audience.”
Geoff Johns, chief creative officer of DC Entertainment, says the show is a reminder that Batman cuts across media and the public imagination in unique way.
“There’s no place on earth that doesn’t know who Batman is. He’s not just one of the most iconic superheroes ever created, he is one of the most iconic characters in history — and has had more stories told about him than just about any other character, period,” Johns said. “What’s cool to me about ‘Batman Live’ is that when you first come into the arena, you see the three-dimensional cityscape and you hear the sounds of the city — you’re really entering Gotham in a way you can’t experience anywhere else. You are an active participant in the story and a real part of Batman’s world.”
More North American dates are to be announced soon. Tickets for the Southern California dates go on sale March 23 through Ticketmaster. Tickets can also be bought at the venue box offices or by calling (800) 745-3000. For most shows, ticket prices range from $29.50 to $103.
– Geoff Boucher
[For the record, 2:47 p.m. March 16: An earlier version of this post mistated the location of the Indiana Jones stunt show. It's at Disney's Hollywood Studios, not Universal Studios.]
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