×

Batman Live: World Arena Tour

Broadway has "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," and now the rest of America is getting its own flying super-hero show.

With:
With: Sam Heughan, Kamran Darabi-Ford, Mark Frost, Emma Clifford, Poppy Tierney, Alex Giannini, John Harding, Christopher D. Hunt, Christopher Price, Thomas Christian, Graham Martin, Erin Anna Jameson, Valerie Murzak, Benos Noble.

Broadway has “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” and now the rest of America is getting its own flying super-hero show, “Batman Live: World Arena Tour.” Let’s count the ways that “Batman” is better than “Spider-Man”: It’s a few minutes shorter. Top ticket price is several dollars less. And there aren’t any Bono and the Edge songs to bog down the narrative.

What the two stage shows have in common is a bizarre penchant to tell aspects of a story that every super-hero fan already knows. The joy of old comic books is that they got right to the latest battle.

But not on stage: “Spider-Man” takes forever before its hero gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gains his powers. “Batman Live” is to be commended for dispensing with the Bruce Wayne (Sam Heughan) orphan story in about two minutes flat. The Robin/Dick Grayson (Kamran Darabi-Ford) narrative, unfortunately, consumes almost the entire evening, and the sidekick doesn’t even learn of Wayne’s Batman identity until way into act two.

Popular on Variety

Meanwhile, we get a lot of second-rate circus gymnastics, squeezed into the show because Robin/Grayson’s parents (Poppy Tierney and Christopher Price) are trapeze artists who get murdered, and the Penguin (Alex Giannini) takes over Haly’s Circus. Then the great battle between Batman and the Penguin, the Joker (Mark Frost), the Riddler (Price), Poison Ivy (Valerie Murzak), Two Face (Christopher D. Hunt) and Scarecrow (Benos Noble) moves to Arkham Asylum. As a storyteller, book writer Allan Heinberg does little more than connect the famous names of characters and places.

To ensure parents that Robin and Batman are just friends, Catwoman (Emma Clifford) joins forces with Batman and gives him a kiss at show’s end. Curiously, Robin is overcome with emotion by this gesture.

Best aspect of the production are the colorful projections that establish the story’s many settings, and give us something to look at when the live performers attempt to progress the very talky narrative.

“Batman Live” has already played the U.K., Europe and Latin America. After L.A., it travels to other North American cities.

Batman Live: World Arena Tour

Staples Center, Los Angeles, 7500 seats, $99 top

Production: A Warner Bros. Consumer Products, DC Entertainment and Walter Lane Productions presentation of a play in two acts by Allan Heinberg. Directed by Anthony Van Laast. Co-director, James Powell; production design, Es Devlin; music, James Seymour Brett; sound, Simon Baker; lighting, Patrick Woodroffe; video production, Sam Pattinson; costumes, Jack Galloway; circus sequences, Circus Space with Bryan Donaldson and Juliette Hardy-Donaldson. Opened and reviewed Sept. 27, 2012. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast: With: Sam Heughan, Kamran Darabi-Ford, Mark Frost, Emma Clifford, Poppy Tierney, Alex Giannini, John Harding, Christopher D. Hunt, Christopher Price, Thomas Christian, Graham Martin, Erin Anna Jameson, Valerie Murzak, Benos Noble.

More Legit

  • Gregg Smith, Dancer and Choreographer Assistant,

    Gregg Smith, Dancer and Choreographer Assistant, Dies at 73

    Gregg Smith, a dancer, casting director and assistant choreographer who had a long association with director Kenny Ortega, has died. He was 73. Smith died on Jan. 1. The industry veteran worked as a performer in the national touring company of the musical “Hair” and in a Los Angeles production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He [...]

  • Frozen review musical

    Warmth and Humor Pervade Pantages Production of 'Frozen' the Musical

    In 2013, Disney’s “Frozen” hit screens like a 100 mile-per-hour snowball, sparking a pop cultural phenomenon in which little girls and boys pranced about dressed in Anna and Elsa and Olaf costumes while belting aloud “Let It Go,” Elsa’s feminist anthemic response to ice powers rendering her a societal outcast. The animated movie won two [...]

  • My Name Is Lucy Barton review

    'My Name is Lucy Barton': Theater Review

    Laura Linney is in love. Just watch the radiant expression on her face as she wraps her arms around the character of Lucy Barton, a role she played in two separate engagements at the Bridge Theater in London, and is now reprising on Broadway in “My Name is Lucy Barton.” The feeling is obviously mutual, [...]

  • 'Broadway Profiles with Tamsen Fadal' to

    'Broadway Profiles with Tamsen Fadal' to Air Weekly, Syndicate Nationally (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Broadway Profiles with Tamsen Fadal” will become nationally syndicated, marking a first for a program about the Great White Way. Beginning in fall 2020, the monthly show will increase frequency to air weekly. The show is hosted and executive-produced by 12-time Emmy Award winner Tamsen Fadal, a news anchor at WPIX, the channel that initially [...]

  • Laura Linney My Name Is Lucy

    Listen: What Laura Linney Learns From Bad Shows

    For Laura Linney, every stage experience is a learning experience. “Even the bad ones!” she cheerfully declared on the new episode of Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “Even the ones that are really bad, and I’ve been really bad in some things,” continued the Emmy winner, currently back on Broadway [...]

  • 'Betrayal' Star Zawe Ashton Signs With

    'Betrayal' Star Zawe Ashton Signs With CAA (EXCLUSIVE)

    Zawe Ashton has signed with CAA, Variety has learned. Most recently seen on Broadway in the hit revival of Harold Pinter’s “Betryal,” Ashton is the definition of a multi-hyphenate. In addition to being an in-demand actress, Ashton is a director, playwright and author. While earning critical raves for “Betrayal,” Ashton made her debut as a [...]

  • Michael Feinstein Kristin Chenoweth Sutton Foster

    Jerry Herman Memorial Set for Feb. 3 at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

    A memorial service for Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman will be held at 3 p.m. on Feb. 3 at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Michael Feinstein is producing the tribute, which will feature performances from a number of notable legit stars, including Kristin Chenoweth, Harvey Fierstein, Sutton Foster, Kelli O’Hara, Bernadette Peters and Betty Buckley. Angela [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content