Superheroes, villains abound in ‘Marvel Universe Live!’
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Talk about a clash of the titans!
No, it’s not the gods of Olympus, but those other equally fictional and super-cool, super-powered do-gooders and villains, who, in this case inhabit the Marvel Comics universe.
‘Marvel Universe LIVE!’
Sept. 10-13, United Center, 1901 W. Madison
Sept. 18-20, Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim, Rosemont
The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man, Storm, Green Goblin, Iron Man — you’ve see them on the pages of comic books, on TV, in feature films and even on the Broadway stage. And now you’ll get to experience them in “Marvel Universe Live!,” an arena-sized, state-of-the-art live show featuring more than 25 Marvel superheroes and villains.
“In the arena, you don’t have the benefit of close-ups and CGI, but you have this incredibly huge space in which you can do this mind-blowing spectacle you can’t do in any other medium,” said “Marvel Universe Live!” creator/co-writer Shanda Sawyer, of the show, which boasts HD video effects, movie-caliber special effects and stunts, and pyrotechnics.
Starring as the Hulk is Chicago actor Cody Evans. A classically trained actor with a Shakespearian background, Banks attended the exclusive and progressive Chicago Waldorf School (“There were 18 people in my graduating class and I went to class with the same people for 15 years”). He has racked up numerous Chicago stage credits including last year’s production of Lyric Opera’s “Il trovatore,” appearing most notably in the iconic “Anvil Chorus” scene. Other Chicago acting credits include “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” at Victory Gardens, “Predator: The Musical 2.o” (Roundhouse Productions at Stage 773) and “Point Break Live!” (the stage parody based on the cult classic film).
Evans recently spoke to me about bringing a Marvel superhero to life.
Q. So how did you get to “Marvel Superheros Live!” and the role of the Incredible Hulk (a different actor portrays the green guy’s alter ego David Banner; Evans also plays one of Loki’s minions in several scenes of the production)?
A. I was actually at the Lyric and a guy in the cast told us they were having auditions for the Marvel show. And the way I looked for the Lyric role, with my scruffy beard, I really resembled Wolverine! [Laughs]. So I went and auditioned. They ended up offering me a role.
Q. What’s the storyline in “Marvel Live!”?
A. Loki is trying to take over the universe again so the Avengers have to stop him and the supervillains he has called upon to help him. Every villain is always after one thing or another for themselves, even though they’re helping Loki.
Q. You said you also portray one of the Loki’s minions. How do you shift from one role to another, especially when they are so vastly different?
A. The way it works in the show, everybody plays a number of roles for most part. When I’m a minion, it’s a very physically demanding role and I get my butt kicked out there! The Hulk is a whole different entity. It’s like being in a tank. The best way I can describe it is think of the movie “Alien” when Sigourney Weaver gets into that giant, robotlike machine and stomps around firing at [the creatures]. It’s very arduous manipulating the machinery for Hulk. But it’s so cool when you see how it all plays out! When the Hulk comes out he’s like Aerosmith out there! It’s huge!
Q. Were you a fan of the Marvel comic books universe growing up?
A. Oh yeah. Very much. Still am. It’s like I’m an adult nerd. I’m a huge fan of Wolverine and the Lyric opera role gave me a chance to look like him; the opportunity to grow out my sideburns and look grizzly. [Laughs]
Q. Why is Wolverine your favorite superhero?
A. He’s always kind of the underdog, and he internalizes a lot of things. There’s lots of humanity to him even though he’s aggressive and has a carnal mentality. But it’s always based on something that makes sense.
Q. Were you a fan of “The Hulk” comic books or movies before this project?
A. I really liked the moives, even when a lot of people did not. When I was reading ‘Hulk’ comic books growing up, he wasn’t as highly irritated as he was in the movies. In the movies we see the out-of-control Hulk. I’m into the more centered, more Buddhistic kind of Hulk from the comic books.
Q. You said Wolverine is your favorite superhero. Who’s your favorite female superhero?
A. Rogue. She’s sassy!