Marvel fans assemble because Marvel Universe LIVE! is set to take Australia into an unforgettable, high octane battle between good and evil this coming March when the all-new live arena show starts its tour.
Featuring 25 of Marvel’s iconic characters – Spider-Man, the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange and Loki, to name a few – this show is set to sizzle and dazzle fans with cutting-edge special effects and immersive video projection.
Whether your personal favourite is a hero or villain, in the Marvel universe neither can exist without the other, says performer Sam Lee, who is inhabiting the antithesis of both in the show. Performing as both Spiderman and The Green Goblin (both creations of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko), Lee says he began to love the show when he understood that the message being portrayed was about the idea of overcoming daunting challenges by depending on our strength as well as the strength of our companions. ” I am always happy to see parents wearing their favourite hero’s shirt, girls dressed as Spiderman, the differently abled representing the Hulk, and multiple cultures carrying Captain America’s shield because it shows me that the ideals of a hero go across ages, genders, ethnicities, and status,” he says. “Of course, my personal favourite hero is Spiderman.”
To Lee, the idea of a hero is something that is inherently understand – moments when we needed help and moments when we reached out to help others is the general dynamic of heroism and life itself. “Life is full of trials and difficulties and, even as a child, we experience feelings of helplessness and despair,” says Lee. “Likewise, we experience moments of hope and relief that teach us that there are things that others can do for us that we could not do on our own. This, to me, is the general characteristic of a hero. It is a person who saves us from an outcome that we could not save ourselves from. Correspondingly, our humanity draws great contentment in helping others, being looked up to as roles models or even just a good friend, and ensuring happiness to others whether family or community. As for the Marvel Universe and why we like super heroes, I think it’s analogous to the notion that if our trials in life are perceived as insurmountable then we need to believe that our heroes are indomitable, that overwhelming difficulties can be overcome by an ever-triumphant will.”
Marvel Universe LIVE! is a highly fuelled, high energy show that demands a lot from its skilled performers. Employing all forms of physical manipulation, from stunts to acrobatics, performers must be fit, well trained and highly proficient in their craft. Drawing from a pool of martial artists, aerial performers, X Games competitors and stunt people, the cast is a dynamo of expertise and talent! Lee’s particular skill set is rooted in his speciality, Taekwondo. Lee has been a practitioner of martial arts since 1996, and is the owner/ instructor of a Martial Arts studio in Columbia. For Lee, training in martial arts has led him to develop a well diversified skill set which has prepared him for his role in the show
“Taekwondo training, specifically, employs a lot of high intensity cardio, flexibility, and a dynamic skill set focusing mainly on kicking techniques,” says Lee. “My path in Taekwondo also led me to “Martial Arts Tricking” which is a hybrid of martial arts and acrobatics. Marvel Universe Live is a show filled with heroes and villains who are battling it out for the sake of the universe so there is a ton of fight choreography that goes into the show. Being strongly familiar with the actual combat and acrobatic techniques makes it so that the performance is controlled and safe. I definitely utilize a lot of my kicking and flipping skills every show.”
Lee explains that there is a ton of training that is always going on before, during, and even after shows. There are so many moving parts to every scene that the cast, crew, the pyro team, automation, and flight team all have to be on the same page at all times. “There may be a rehearsal for fight choreography, a flight, special skills training, motorcycles, stage blocking, you name it we’ve rehearsed it!”
For Lee, most of his challenges on the show come from dealing with injuries, soreness, sprains and strains from performing and training. Although, he is quick to point out, every element of the show revolves around safety, there are some dings and bruises that can’t be avoided in this style of physical and dynamic show. “Fortunately, we have an amazing PT on staff that takes great care of us and a staff and crew that keep us safe during the show,” he says.
Notwithstanding the dings and bruises, Lee’s favourite part of the show are the flights! “Whether it’s Green Goblin flying in on the glider or Spiderman swinging around the arena via web those moments are always fun and breath-taking for me,” says Lee. “It’s hard for me to choose between the two because it’s fun to play the villain but there is so much pride in being everyone’s friendly neighbourhood Spiderman.”
Lee vividly recalls the day he auditioned for the show. “I actually flew down to Orlando, Florida for the audition and I remember the building it was held in was lined with windows so that you could see everything inside from the parking lot,” he says. ” At first, I was pretty intimidated by the sheer number of people lined up for the audition but once we all started moving through basic skills and choreography I felt comfortable and just focused on performing.” The audition process goes over basic combat techniques, character movement, fight choreography, and any special skills that performers may have. “Of course, there are cuts along the way so it can get pretty nerve-racking. Fortunately, I made through the entire process and felt that I did fairly well overall and whatever happens after that point is just meant to be.” Lee was at his Taekwondo studio a bit early going over some light office work when he got the call. “I was absolutely ecstatic and, at the same time, I knew I had a lot of work to do before flying out so that my studio could run without me.”
A day in an early rehearsal could range anywhere from running through a full dress rehearsal to just testing out a single stunt or flight. “It really depends on what needs to be gone over and practiced for safety reasons,” explains Lee. Lee adds that having the skills required to do the show and understanding how to perform those skills for the show are definitely two different things. Lee estimates that it takes him about a month of performing any particular track before it feels comfortable.
This is Lee’s second time with the show; the first was a brief, 6-month tour in 2016-17 when the show toured Europe. Since then, he has been concentrating on growing his school as well as dabbling in film, but the thought of touring with Marvel Universe LIVE! again was always in the back of his mind. “Coming back for the 2019-20 tour has been amazing,” he says. “I would say that Nottingham has been a significant city for me because both tours, although 2 years apart, coincidentally began in the same city in the same arena.”
Lee admits that the best thing about a travelling show is the opportunity to see so much of the world so quickly. “Although I love travelling, it is difficult to find the means to do so normally but with the show we are hopping from city to city (and even countries) on a weekly basis. Of course, that means we’re living hotel to hotel and sometimes that means no refrigerators, microwaves, kitchens, or gyms, depending on the hotel amenities. Not a huge problem but it can definitely be an inconvenience sometimes.”
With Marvel Universe LIVE! set to hit our shores in March, Lee, who has never been to Australia, nor did he see himself coming to Australia at any point in his life, is super excited at the prospect. “I’m not sure what to expect so I’m looking forward to seeing the people, the food, the scenery, and just the overall vibe of Australia,” he says.
A joint venture between live show production company, Feld Entertainment, and Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Universe LIVE! is a 105 minute jaw dropping, eye popping, adrenaline rush. A unique theatrical experience for all ages, Marvel Universe LIVE! is set to thrill, amaze and excite.
A beautiful homage to Stan Lee’s creations, Spiderman and The Green Goblin, Sam Lee describes Marvel Universe Live! as an absolutely amazing show. “It’s an experience you can’t have in the movie theatres because it’s all happening live right in front of you! All the stunts, flips, fights, lights, lasers, and heroes are all happening in real time every show and it is jaw-dropping.” Audiences can expect to see their favourite Marvel heroes and villains battle it out for the fate of the universe LIVE!
Tour begins late March and runs through late April. Check when Marvel Universe LIVE! visits your city: